Finite resource performance of small satellite-based quantum key distribution missions

Islam, Tanvirul and Sidhu, Jasminder S. and Higgins, Brendon L. and Brougham, Thomas and Vergoossen, Tom and Oi, Daniel K. L. and Jennewein, Thomas and Ling, Alexander (2022) Finite resource performance of small satellite-based quantum key distribution missions. Other., Ithaca, New York. (

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In satellite-based quantum key distribution (QKD), the number of secret bits that can be generated in a single satellite pass over the ground station is severely restricted by the pass duration and the free-space optical channel loss. High channel loss may decrease the signal-to-noise ratio due to background noise, reduce the number of generated raw key bits, and increase the quantum bit error rate (QBER), all of which have detrimental effects on the output secret key length. Under finite-size security analysis, higher QBER increases the minimum raw key length necessary for non-zero secret key length extraction due to less efficient reconciliation and post-processing overheads. We show that recent developments in finite key analysis allow three different small-satellite-based QKD projects CQT-Sat, UK-QUARC-ROKS, and QEYSSat to produce secret keys even under very high loss conditions, improving on estimates based on previous finite key bounds. This suggests that satellites in low Earth orbit can satisfy finite-size security requirements, but remains challenging for satellites further from Earth.


Islam, Tanvirul, Sidhu, Jasminder S. ORCID logoORCID:, Higgins, Brendon L., Brougham, Thomas, Vergoossen, Tom, Oi, Daniel K. L. ORCID logoORCID:, Jennewein, Thomas and Ling, Alexander;