A Modeling Framework for Studying Quantum Key Distribution System Implementation Nonidealities

Logan O. Mailloux, Jeffrey D. Morris, Michael R. Grimaila, Douglas D. Hodson, David R. Jacques, John M. Colombi, Colin V. McLaughlin, Jennifer A. Holes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Quantum key distribution (QKD) is an innovative technology that exploits the laws of quantum mechanics to generate and distribute unconditionally secure shared key for use in cryptographic applications. However, QKD is a relatively nascent technology where real-world system implementations differ significantly from their ideal theoretical representations. In this paper, we introduce a modeling framework built upon the OMNeT++ discrete event simulation framework to study the impact of implementation nonidealities on QKD system performance and security. Specifically, we demonstrate the capability to study the device imperfections and practical engineering limitations through the modeling and simulation of a polarization-based, prepare and measure BB84 QKD reference architecture. The reference architecture allows users to model and study complex interactions between physical phenomenon and system-level behaviors representative of real-world design and implementation tradeoffs. Our results demonstrate the flexibility of the framework to simulate and evaluate current, future, and notional QKD protocols and components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7031852
Pages (from-to)110-130
Number of pages21
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Modeling & Simulation
  • Quantum Key Distribution
  • System Performance
  • System Security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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