Quantum cryptography describes the use of quantum mechanical effects (in particular quantum communication and quantum computation) to perform cryptographic tasks or to break cryptographic systems.
Well-known examples of quantum cryptography are the use of quantum communication to exchange a key securely (quantum key distribution) and the hypothetical use of quantum computers that would allow the breaking of various popular public-key encryption and signature schemes (e.g., RSA and ElGamal).
The advantage of quantum cryptography lies in the fact that it allows the completion of various cryptographic tasks that are proven or conjectured to be impossible using only classical (i.e. non-quantum) communication (see below for examples). For example, quantum mechanics guarantees that measuring quantum data disturbs that data; this can be used to detect eavesdropping in quantum key distribution.