Stony Stevenson writes "Quantum cryptography, the most secure method of transmitting data, has taken a step closer to mainstream viability with a technique that simplifies the distribution of keys. Researchers at NIST claim that the new 'quantum key distribution' method minimizes the required number of detectors, the most costly components in quantum crypto. Four single-photon detectors are usually required (these cost $20K to $50K each) to send and decode cryptography keys. In the new method, the researchers designed an optical component that reduces the required number of detectors to two. (The article mentions that in later refinements to the published work, they have reduced the requirement to one detector.) The researchers concede that their minimum-detector arrangement cuts transmission rates but point out that the system still works at broadband speeds."