On-Demand Deterministic Entangled Photon Source

Shervin Kiannejad | 21-FS-026

Project Overview

The need for a truly secure authentication scheme for weapons systems, as well as establishing secure communication nodes for distributing authentication keys, are critical for maintaining and enhancing the safety and effectiveness of U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. Using quantum-entangled photons, we can potentially meet the security needs more effectively for stockpile stewardship than any other technology currently deployed. The use of entangled photons has demonstrated establishment of schemes for ultra-secure authentication and communication. A single source of entangled photons can easily generate secure keys to carry out quantum key distribution (QKD) protocols that can be used for authentication. However, to be able to establish both capabilities of authentication and communication based on entangled photons in a single system, a single source will not work. For the system we have in mind, two independent sources must be used. Specifically, our approach was to interfere two independent source's output photons creating a swapping action between the sources. This swapping allows us to have simultaneous authentication and communication capability in one system.

After conducting the experiment, we observed that we were swapping successfully through interference of independent entangled photon sources. This meant that we had successfully built the hardware for implementing quantum entangled-based authentication and communication schemes. We were able to see swapping numbers that were well within the calculated margins of the needed number of photons for secure key authentication protocols. We were able to generate enough swapped photons to also establish a quantum channel for secure communication as well.

Mission Impact

The generation of entangled photons through interference of independent sources and porting of such photons to geographically separated independent nodes is the engine behind a quantum relay (QR). These relays along with their ability to generate keys are fundamental building blocks behind quantum local area networks (QLAN). These networks can be critical in building a new firewall of security to further enhance the safety, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. QLAN can be used to improve security and resilience of nation's critical infrastructure from cyberattack and hackers, both state actors and others. The research furthers advances the mission research challenge in nuclear weapons science. Finally, this system will enable NNSA to have a new research tool for creating new ways to respond to national security challenges.