• quantum cryptography;
  • quantum communication;
  • experimental imperfections


Quantum key distribution is among the foremost applications of quantum mechanics, both in terms of fundamental physics and as a technology on the brink of commercial deployment. Starting from principal schemes and initial proofs of unconditional security for perfect systems, much effort has gone into providing secure schemes which can cope with numerous experimental imperfections unavoidable in real world implementations. In this paper, we provide a comparison of various schemes and protocols. We analyse their efficiency and performance when implemented with imperfect physical components. We consider how experimental faults are accounted for using effective parameters. We compare various recent protocols and provide guidelines as to which components propose best advances when being improved.