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Quantum communication addresses the problem of exchanging information across macroscopic distances by employing encryption techniques based on quantum-mechanical laws. Here, we advance a new paradigm for secure quantum communication by combining backscattering concepts with covert communication in the microwave regime. Our protocol allows communication between Alice, who uses only discrete phase modulations, and Bob, who has access to cryogenic microwave technology. Using notions of quantum channel discrimination and quantum metrology, we find the ultimate bounds for the receiver performance, proving that quantum correlations can enhance the SNR by up to 6 dB. These bounds rule out any quantum illumination advantage when the source is strongly amplified, and shows that a relevant gain is possible only in the low photon-number regime. We show how the protocol can be used for covert communication, where the carrier signal is indistinguishable from the thermal noise in the environment. We complement our information-theoretic results with a feasible experimental proposal in a circuit-QED platform. This work makes a decisive step toward implementing secure quantum communication concepts in the previously uncharted 1-10 GHz frequency range, in the scenario when the disposable power of one party is severely constrained.
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15/10/2019 → 30/04/2023
Project: EU: Framework programmes funding
01/01/2019 → 30/06/2022
Project: Academy of Finland: Other research funding