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Nat Commun. 2012 Jul 17;3:961. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1951.

Complete experimental toolbox for alignment-free quantum communication.

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Dipartimento di Fisica, Sapienza Università di Roma, Roma 00185, Italy.


Quantum communication employs the counter-intuitive features of quantum physics for tasks that are impossible in the classical world. It is crucial for testing the foundations of quantum theory and promises to revolutionize information and communication technologies. However, to execute even the simplest quantum transmission, one must establish, and maintain, a shared reference frame. This introduces a considerable overhead in resources, particularly if the parties are in motion or rotating relative to each other. Here we experimentally show how to circumvent this problem with the transmission of quantum information encoded in rotationally invariant states of single photons. By developing a complete toolbox for the efficient encoding and decoding of quantum information in such photonic qubits, we demonstrate the feasibility of alignment-free quantum key-distribution, and perform proof-of-principle demonstrations of alignment-free entanglement distribution and Bell-inequality violation. The scheme should find applications in fundamental tests of quantum mechanics and satellite-based quantum communication.


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