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When implementing data encryption and decryption in a symmetric cryptosystem, secure distribution of the secret key to legitimate nodes can be a challenge. In this paper, we consider establishing secret keys using the common wireless channel, with particular emphasis on the spatial and temporal correlations of the channel coefficients.

Specifically, we investigate the influence of channel correlation on the bound of the key size generated from the common channel using a simple single-input single-output channel model, and we verify the existence of a sampling approach able to generate a key using the minimum possible sampling window.

We also explore decorrelation of the channel coefficients in a multiple-input multiple-output channel, and we use a statistical independence test to demonstrate that this process cannot be separated into spatial and temporal decorrelation processes.

The insights gained from these studies assist in the development of a practical key generation protocol based on a published channel coefficient quantization method and incorporating flexible quantization levels, transmission of the correlation eigenvector matrix, and LDPC coding to improve key agreement in an authenticated public channel. Finally, we present simulations with real channel measurements that solidify the fundamental conclusions.