Physical layer key generation in 5G and beyond wireless communications: Challenges and opportunities

Guyue Li, Chen Sun, Junqing Zhang, Eduard Jorswieck, Bin Xiao, Aiqun Hu

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


The fifth generation (5G) and beyond wireless communications will transform many exciting applications and trigger massive data connections with private, confidential, and sensitive information. The security of wireless communications is conventionally established by cryptographic schemes and protocols in which the secret key distribution is one of the essential primitives. However, traditional cryptography-based key distribution protocols might be challenged in the 5G and beyond communications because of special features such as device-to-device and heterogeneous communications, and ultra-low latency requirements. Channel reciprocity-based key generation (CRKG) is an emerging physical layer-based technique to establish secret keys between devices. This article reviews CRKG when the 5G and beyond networks employ three candidate technologies: duplex modes, massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) and mmWave communications. We identify the opportunities and challenges for CRKG and provide corresponding solutions. To further demonstrate the feasibility of CRKG in practical communication systems, we overview existing prototypes with different IoT protocols and examine their performance in real-world environments. This article shows the feasibility and promising performances of CRKG with the potential to be commercialized.

Original languageEnglish
Article number497
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • In-band full-duplex
  • IoT prototypes
  • Massive MIMO
  • MmWave communications
  • physical layer security
  • Secret key generation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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