Drone-Based Quantum Communication Links

Andrew Conrad, Samantha Isaac, Roderick Cochran, Daniel Sanchez-Rosales, Tahereh Rezaei, Timur Javid, A. J. Schroeder, Grzegorz Golba, Daniel Gauthier, Paul Kwiat

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Quantum networks between mobile platforms enable secure communication, distributed quantum sensors, and distributed quantum computing. As progress towards a future quantum internet continues, connecting mobile platforms (e.g., unmanned drones, smart vehicles, ships, and planes) to quantum networks remains a challenge. For instance, engineering constraints for real-world mobile platforms require low size, weight, and power (SWaP) for quantum systems. Additionally, single photons must be routed to platforms that are in motion and experience vibrations. In this effort, we discuss progress toward developing and demonstrating quantum communication links, including decoy-state quantum key distribution (QKD), between mobile drone and vehicle platforms in several configurations (drone-to-drone, drone-to-moving vehicle, and vehicle-to-vehicle). We will discuss and analyze critical subsystems including our decoy-state QKD source based on resonant cavity light emitting diodes (LED), compact optical system design, pointing, acquisition, and tracking (PAT) subsystem, single-photon detectors, field-programmable gate array-based time-tagger, and a novel time-synchronization algorithm. In addition, we present system performance including tracking performance under multiple conditions and mobile platform configurations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationQuantum Computing, Communication, and Simulation III
EditorsPhilip R. Hemmer, Alan L. Migdall
ISBN (Electronic)9781510659971
StatePublished - 2023
EventQuantum Computing, Communication, and Simulation III 2023 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Jan 29 2023Feb 2 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceQuantum Computing, Communication, and Simulation III 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • Autonomous Drones
  • Decoy-State QKD
  • Free-Space Quantum Communications
  • Quantum Key Distribution (QKD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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