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Time-Sensitive Quantum Key Distribution

Time-Sensitive Quantum Key Distribution

Time-sensitive quantum key distribution (TSQKD) leverages time-sensitive networking (TSN) and quantum key distribution (QKD) technologies to provide industrial control networks with simpler, more deterministic, and secure communication.

Since the discovery of quantum secure communication, a variety of protocols and techniques have been proposed and developed for making the technology more practical, secure, and scalable. A notable benefit of QKD is that cloning quantum state is impossible, and detection of eavesdropping is a natural part of its operation, something that today’s classical techniques, which may be broken by quantum computing, cannot currently achieve. Integrating the precise, deterministic network control enabled by time-sensitive networking (TSN) with the quantum optics required to implement quantum key distributing (QKD) results in a more secure industrial control network. QKD has been fit seamlessly into the existing, ease-to-use TSN network configuration and management process, demonstrated with GE grid intelligent electronic devices and standard utility protocols. This project has resulted in a measurement-device-independent quantum key distribution (MDI-QKD) design in a simpler, less-expensive, “plug-and-play” system implemented in a photonic integrated circuit that can be integrated directly within industrial devices that alleviates potential side-channel attacks. TSN provides the precise network control required by quantum optics to implement a control plane suitable for the quantum internet.

Key benefits of TS-QKD:

  • Simpler, lower-cost, and more secure than classical cybersecurity solutions
  • Deterministic (TSN-enforced) flow patterns with nanosecond resolution
  • Reduced cybersecurity attack surface by restricting traffic injection
  • Low-cost control of Measurement-Device-Independent (MDI) QKD
  • Converged and fully characterized network
  • Eavesdropper detection
  • High key entropy
TSN Quantum Network

Project Milestones

  • Designed grid solution with QKD-protected TSN
  • Demonstrated QKD authentication and encryption of TSN configuration
  • Integrated QKD-enabled Linux with generalized Precision Time Protocol (gPTP)
  • Designed eavesdropper and implemented remote programming operations
  • Designed key mapping to assign keys based on actual data flows
  • Integrated TS-QKD technology into legacy equipment using grid standards
  • Distributed Network Protocol (DNP3) with Secure SCADA Protocol (SSP21)
  • IEC 61850 Routable-Generic Object-Oriented Substation Event (R-GOOSE)
  • Designed photonic integrated chip (PIC) to enable low cost implementation of QKD

We believe that standards are essential to market adoption and are contributing toward standardized quantum network management configuration and control via IEEE P1913 as illustrated in the following Figure.


Quantum Networking Standards



In contrast to many of the efforts on QKD to extend communication distance and data rates, we suggest that, within the power grid, it is more important to enable short-distance, low-data rate encrypted communication. We propose a technique to incorporate QKD into photonic integrated circuits to enable low cost implementation of QKD across the hundreds of thousands of devices on the power grid network. To achieve a PIC implementation, we propose a means to apply the plug-and-play MDI-QKD design concept by removing Faraday mirrors at the edge device locations and greatly reducing the number of untrusted Charlie nodes that must incorporate components that are expensive and require more supporting infrastructure and routine maintenance. Estimates of key generation rates indicate that for short distances Charlie nodes can operate quite well with either InGaAs, SPADs, or SNSPDs. We believe that TSN, an integral part of the power grid network, is ideally suited to this QKD technique in which controlling the time of arrival of photons at Charlie is critical to making successful Bell state measurements.

Future Collaboration

If you are interested in teaming with GE Research for external opportunities to build upon this work toward a TSN-enabled control plane for the quantum internet, please contact [email protected].

Acknowledgment/Disclaimer: This material is based upon work supported by the Department of Energy under Award Number DE-OE0000894. This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.
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