Transmission of quantum-secured images

Johnson, Steven and Rarity, John and Padgett, Miles (2024) Transmission of quantum-secured images. Scientific Reports, 14 (1). 11579. ISSN 2045-2322 (

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The secure transmission of an image can be accomplished by encoding the image information, securely communicating this information, and subsequently reconstructing the image. Alternatively, here we show how the image itself can be directly transmitted while ensuring that the presence of any eavesdropper is revealed in a way akin to quantum key distribution (QKD). We achieve this transmission using a photon-pair source with the deliberate addition of a thermal light source as background noise. One photon of the pair illuminates the object, which is masked from an eavesdropper by adding indistinguishable thermal photons, the other photon of the pair acts as a time reference with which the intended recipient can preferentially filter the image carrying photons from the background. These reference photons are themselves made sensitive to the presence of an eavesdropper by traditional polarisation-based QKD encoding. Interestingly the security verification is performed in the two-dimensional polarisation-basis, but the image information is encoded in a much higher-dimensional, hence information-rich, pixel basis. In our example implementation, our image comprises of 152 independent pixels. Beyond the secure transmission of images, our approach to the distribution of secure high-dimensional information may offer new high-bandwidth approaches to QKD.