Quantum key distribution (QKD) systems often rely on polarization of light for encoding, thus limiting the amount of information that can be sent per photon and placing tight bounds on the error rates that such a system can tolerate. Here we describe a proof-of-principle experiment that indicates the feasibility of high-dimensional QKD based on the transverse structure of the light field allowing for the transfer of more than 1 bit per photon. Our implementation uses the orbital angular momentum (OAM) of photons and the corresponding mutually unbiased basis of angular position (ANG). Our experiment uses a digital micro-mirror device for the rapid generation of OAM and ANG modes at 4 kHz, and a mode sorter capable of sorting single photons based on their OAM and ANG content with a separation efficiency of 93%. Through the use of a seven-dimensional alphabet encoded in the OAM and ANG bases, we achieve a channel capacity of 2.05 bits per sifted photon. Our experiment demonstrates that, in addition to having an increased information capacity, multilevel QKD systems based on spatial-mode encoding can be more resilient against intercept-resend eavesdropping attacks.
Mirhosseini, M., Magana-Loaiza, O. S., O'Sullivan, M., Rodenburg, B., Malik, M., Lavery, M. P. J., Padgett, M. J., Gauthier, D. J., & Boyd, R. W. (2015). High-dimensional quantum cryptography with twisted light. New Journal of Physics, 17, . https://doi.org/10.1088/1367-2630/17/3/033033