Entanglement in quantum communication : preparation and characterization of photonic qubits

Sammanfattning: At the heart of quantum physics lies the principle of superposition, and at the heart of information theory lies the bit. Perhaps the most useful property of quantum systems is that they can be loaded with information bits, so-called qubits, that are indefinitely both 0 and 1 until a measurement is made. Another consequence is that several qubits can become entangled, which is manifested by the non-classical correlations between such quantum systems when measured in all possible bases. Within the rapidly progressing fields of quantum information and quantum communication these quantum effects are utilized to perform tasks such as quantum computing and quantum cryptography. In this thesis we present experimental and theoretical work using single photon sources to prepare ``flying'' photonic qubits. We describe work using mainly quasi-phase-matched nonlinear crystals to generate beams of entangled photon pairs, that are either encoded in polarization at near-visible wavelengths, or in time at optical fiber telecommunication wavelengths (1550 nm). The optical fiber is the medium used for transporting the qubits over a long distance, and it is therefore essential to couple the photons well into the fibers. By focusing the beams optimally, we have investigated how this problem can meet the requirement of creating photons of a narrow frequency bandwidth and a high photon flux. Furthermore, we have generated truly single photons that are heralded by an electrical signal. As a result of modifying the statistics of such sources we have been able to show the effect of photon antibunching. In two separate works, we have implemented a quantum key distribution system based on faint laser pulses at the telecom wavelength of 1550 nm, as well as protocols based on entanglement for performing authentication of key distribution in quantum cryptography.