Practical physical-layer encryption: The marriage of optical noise with traditional cryptography

Gregory Scott Kanter, Daniel Reilly, Neil Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We describe an emerging method of encryption suitable for high-speed optical communication networks. This encryption protocol combines traditional electronic cryptographic algorithms with the physical effect of optical noise of quantum origin to create a highly secure method of secret communications. The resulting optical signal is compatible with today's high speed fiber optic infrastructure including optical amplification and add/drop multiplexing. Systems implementing this protocol can be constructed with common commercially available components. We describe experimental results obtained with a 2.5 Gb/s system. The encrypted signal is shown to travel error-free through >500 km of optical fiber. Simulations show that reaches and data rates consistent with modern long haul optical networks are attainable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5307469
Pages (from-to)74-81
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Communications Magazine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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