How Quantum is Quantum Counterfactual Communication?

Jonte R. Hance*, James Ladyman, John Rarity

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
178 Downloads (Pure)


Quantum Counterfactual Communication is the recently-proposed idea of using quantum physics to send messages between two parties, without any matter/energy transfer associated with the bits sent. While this has excited massive interest, both for potential ‘unhackable’ communication, and insight into the foundations of quantum mechanics, it has been asked whether this process is essentially quantum, or could be performed classically. We examine counterfactual communication, both classical and quantum, and show that the protocols proposed so far for sending signals that don’t involve matter/energy transfer associated with the bits sent must be quantum, insofar as they require wave-particle duality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Number of pages17
JournalFoundations of Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2021

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Science and Philosophy
  • Centre_for_science_and_philosophy
  • QETLabs
  • Bristol Quantum Information Institute
  • Photonics and Quantum


  • quant-ph
  • physics.hist-ph
  • 81P45, 81P05, 94A05, 81V80


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