Towards an All-Silicon QKD Transmitter Sourced by a Ge-on-Si Light Emitter

JSTQE, vol. 30, no. 1, art. no. 6600109, Jan. 2024


Florian Honz, Nemanja Vokić, Philip Walther,
Hannes Hübel, and Bernhard Schrenk


We demonstrate a novel transmitter concept for quantum key distribution based on the polarization-encoded BB84 protocol, which is sourced by the incoherent light of a forward-biased Ge-on-Si PIN junction. We investigate two architectures for quantum state preparation, including independent polarization encoding through multiple modulators and a simplified approach leveraging on an interferometric polarization modulator. We experimentally prove that the Ge-on-Si light source can accommodate for quantum key generation by accomplishing raw-key rates of 2.15 kbit/s at a quantum bit error ratio of 7.71% at a symbol rate of 1 GHz. We further investigate the impact of depolarization along fiber-based transmission channels in combination with the broadband nature of the incoherent light source. Our results prove the feasibility of a fully-integrated silicon quantum key distribution transmitter, including its light source, for possible short-reach applications in zero-trust intra-datacenter environments.

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