Abstract

Absorption, scattering, and turbulence experienced in underwater channels severely limit the range of quantum communication links. In this paper, as a potential solution to overcome range limitations, we investigate a multi-hop underwater quantum key distribution (QKD) where intermediate nodes between the source and destination nodes help the key distribution. We consider the deployment of passive relays that simply redirect the qubits to the next relay node or the receiver without any measurement. Based on the near-field analysis, we present the performance of a relay-assisted QKD scheme in terms of quantum bit error rate and secret key rate in different water types and turbulence conditions. We further investigate the effect of system parameters such as aperture size and detector field of view on the performance. Our results demonstrate under what conditions relay-assisted QKD can be beneficial and what end-to-end transmission distances can be supported with a multi-hop underwater QKD system.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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