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Quantum Cryptography Essay

1002 words - 5 pages

Quantum Cryptography

Keeping secrets and passing information that is undetected has long been the goal of cryptographers. Codes have been written and then broken keeping cryptographers in constant search for the unbreakable code. Until recently, that goal seemed unreachable; however, a solution to the once impossible question seems to have surfaced. Quantum cryptography delves down into the world of very small particles, where there are entirely new ways of building ciphers. ("Arrives" 2) Quantum cryptography is a relatively recent discovery in the world of cryptography and is still being tested by the government for distance and practicality. Most recently, researchers at ...view middle of the document...

The same is true for the other filters. Once a particle is measured by the filter, its impossible to determine the original state of the particle.

For an example of how quantum cryptography works, one can look at the messages sent between Alice (the sender) and Bob (the receiver). Alice wants to send Bob a message without anyone else being able to "hear" the conversation. To begin, Alice chooses a key using a string of particles in the four positions mentioned earlier. The key may look something like this: // – \–| . . . Bob receives each of these particles individually and randomly chooses a filter to measure the particle. Based on his results, Bob guesses the position (polarization) of the particle. For example, if Bob chose the vertical filter to measure the first particle and the particle passed through the filter, Bob can be certain that the first particle is either vertical or one of the diagonals. Lets say that the | and \both represent 1, and the -- and / represent 0. The vertical filter then, is considered to be the 1 filter, and the horizontal filter is the 0 filter. Bob then guesses the polarization of each particle. Once the transfer is complete, Alice freely tells Bob which filter (the one or the zero) he should have used to measure each particle. Bob correlates this information with his measurements and tells Alice which ones he got correct. By probability, Bob should have roughly 50% of his measurements correct. Their results become the key that both Alice and Bob use to encrypt their messages and decrypt the ones they receive ("Arrives").

The basic principle of quantum cryptography is difficult enough to understand, but an important question remains: What about Eve the eavesdropper? Because of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, it is impossible for Eve to "listen in" as Alice transmits her key to Bob. To find out the key that Bob and Alice are using, Eve must measure the particles before they reach Bob. If she does so, the polarization (position) of the particles will be altered ("War" 2). Bob will then measure the altered particles instead of the particles in their original...

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