Counterfactual communication without a trace in the transmission channel

Wei Wei Pan, Xiao Liu, Xiao Ye Xu*, Qin Qin Wang, Ze Di Cheng, Jian Wang, Zhao Di Liu, Geng Chen, Zong Quan Zhou, Chuan Feng Li*, Guang Can Guo, Justin Dressel, Lev Vaidman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We report an experimental realization of a modified counterfactual communication protocol that eliminates the dominant environmental trace left by photons passing through the transmission channel. Compared to Wheeler’s criterion for inferring past particle paths, as used in prior protocols, our trace criterion provides stronger support for the claim of the counterfactuality of the communication. We verify the lack of trace left by transmitted photons via tagging the propagation arms of an interferometric device by distinct frequency-shifts and finding that the collected photons have no frequency shift which corresponds to the transmission channel. As a proof of principle, we counterfactually transfer a quick response code image with sufficient fidelity to be scanned with a cell phone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number87
Journalnpj Quantum Information
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


FundersFunder number
Anhui Initiative in Quantum Information TechnologiesAHY020100
Innovation Program for Quantum Science and Technology2021ZD0301200
National Science Foundation1915015
Army Research OfficeW911NF-18-1-0178
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation735/18
National Natural Science Foundation of China11821404, 12204468, 11804330, 12022401, 62075207, 12204142
Natural Science Foundation of Anhui Province2208085QA13
Youth Innovation Promotion Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences2020447
Anhui Provincial Department of EducationKJ2021A0917
Fundamental Research Funds for the Central UniversitiesWK2470000030, WK2470000026


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