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Design Considerations for Quantum Radar


Conference Paper in Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering May 2014
DOI: 10.1117/12.2053117


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Ram M. Narayanan Marco Lanzagorta

Pennsylvania State University United States Naval Research Laboratory


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Design Considerations for Quantum Radar Implementation
Matthew J. Brandsemaa , Ram M. Narayanana , and Marco Lanzagortab
a Dept. of Electrical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
b Naval Research Laboratory, Code 5543, Washington, DC 20375

Quantum radar serves to drastically improve the resolution of current radar technology using quantum phenom-
ena. This paper will first review some of the proposed ideas and engineering designs behind both entanglement
radar and coherent state radar design schemes. Entanglement radar is based on first entangling two photons,
then sending one of the entangled photons out towards the target, and keeping the other one at home. A corre-
lation between the two photons is analyzed to obtain information. Coherent state quantum radar relies on using
coherent state photons and a quantum detection scheme in order to beat the diffraction limit. Based on the
above, a proposed design concept to implement of a coherent state quantum radar is presented for simultaneously
determining target range and azimuth/elevation angles.
Keywords: Quantum Radar, Entanglement, Coherent States

Quantum radar is a new paradigm which exploits quantum phenomena to enhance the resolution of a radar
system in which it becomes more sensitive than its classical counterpart. There are two emerging methods to
accomplish this, and each method has its own unique characteristics.
The first technique is to utilize the concept of quantum entanglement between two photons. This method
provides the best resolution1, but seems to be the most difficult to implement and comes with some drawbacks.
The second approach is to use coherent state photons. This method does not achieve as good of a resolution
as that of the quantum entanglement radar1, but it seems to be much easier to implement. Furthermore, a lot
of the ground work and fundamental proof of concepts seem to have already been done.
At the present time, there are two major methods for ascertaining information in quantum radar devices. The
first method is quantum interferometry, where the phases of the outgoing and incoming photons are measured,
and the difference in phase gives information about the targets location2. This is identical to classical radar
interferometry. The second method for obtaining information is by quantum illumination. This method is
essentially an intensity measurement. In order to perform this type of measurement, one must be able to count
the incoming photons. This task is in general, much more difficult to do than measuring the phase2. Both of
these methods, as well as detailed overview of quantum radar theory can be found in Ref. [2].

1.1 Quantum Entanglement

Quantum entanglement is a phenomena in which two photons become linked. When two photons become
entangled, the interaction between them does not depend upon the distance they are separated. One could
place the two photons on opposite sides of the Earth and when one photon is affected, the second appears to
immediately have a change in state in relation to the first. However, super-luminal communication protocols
cannot be implemented in this fashion. Entanglement radar works on the principle of using the entanglement
state to tag outgoing photons so that we can distinguish them amongst other photons and more easily see
them through noise.
The drawback of this method, is that the entanglement is very fragile and will tend to be lost in environments
with more than 6 dB of loss3. This drawback obviously is detrimental for long range implementations, but could

ram@engr.psu.edu; phone +1(814)863-2602; fax:+1(814)865-7065

Radar Sensor Technology XVIII, edited by Kenneth I. Ranney, Armin Doerry, Proc. of SPIE
Vol. 9077, 90770T 2014 SPIE CCC code: 0277-786X/14/$18 doi: 10.1117/12.2053117

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still be very useful in short range radar designs. However, there may be ways to encode the quantum signal
photons in order to protect them against the noisy environment.
Entanglement radar has one other limitation associated with its design. The fundamental principle is to
entangle two photons, send one photon out towards the target, while keeping the other photon at home. The
two photons are then combined upon the return of the signal photon. Therefore, the distance to the target must
first be known so the system knows how long to hold on to the idler photon and when to precisely combine
it with the incoming signal photon. Therefore, an entanglement quantum radar cannot be a standalone design,
and must be combined with a classical radar system to first ascertain the distance of the target3. However,
Naval Research Lab (NRL) QR v1 architecture envisions a radar detection system that combines classical and
quantum sensors into one device, which would eliminate the requirement of knowing the distance to the target.
The theoretical basis, various architectures, and the physical realization of quantum radar are presented in Ref.
[2]. This source discusses many of the technological challenges in implementing a quantum radar and also lists
some open problems. Ref. [4] also discusses how quantum entanglement is used to enhance resolution.

1.2 Coherent State Photons

The second method for quantum radar implementation is to use coherent state photons. Coherent state photons
are the most classical quantum system. They are unique in that the uncertainty between their position and
momentum remains constant, and equally split5. This means that as the wave packet travels through space, it
does not float away or stretch out in uncertainty as it travels as a normal quantum state would. It remains
localized as it travels through space, thus acting more like a classical particle than a quantum system. (For more
information of coherent states, see Ref. [5].) The advantage is that we can use these states in a very classical
manner but still achieve quantum resolution. An example of this is the fact that the coherent state does not
become destroyed upon detection as a normal quantum state would, as it is defined to be an eigenstate of the
annihilation operator5.
Any type of quantum measurements with coherent states involves two distinct types of measurement schemes.
The first is quantum interferometry, in which one measures the phase between photons. The second is quantum
illumination, in which one measures the intensity (or photon counts) of an incoming batch of photons.


2.1 Parity Measurement
Interestingly, despite the greater advances in coherent state radar, there have been little total design schemes.
On the other hand, total system design schemes have been made for an entanglement radar. This section serves
to introduce a method of utilization for a coherent state radar called quantum homodyne detection and follows
the development shown in Ref. [3].
Parity measurement using quantum homodyne detection seems to be the best way to utilize a coherent state
quantum radar design. It is a method of quantum interferometry, meaning it measures a phase difference. In
this case, the phase difference between an incoming photon signal and a local oscillator is measured.
Obtaining supersensitive information works on the principle of measuring the parity of the incoming photons.
It does so by taking advantage of the fact that the Wigner function evaluated at the origin of phase space is
proportional to the parity expectation value. In other words,

hi = W (0, 0). (1)
The fundamental experimental setup for taking advantage of this fact will now be explained, borrowing
heavily from the a paper on quantum homodyne detection3.
Figure 1 shows the experimental setup for a quantum homodyne parity measurement as presented in Ref.
[3]. It is essentially an interferometer.
A coherent state is the output of a coherent electromagnetic source which is denoted as |i. We define to

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Coherent Radar Source

Figure 1. Setup of the interferometer used in the parity measurement experiment. CRS = Coherent Radar Source, BS
= Beam splitter, M = Mirror, QHD = Quantum Homodyne detector, = Unknown phase to be detected = kl (k is the
wave number and l is the path length difference between the two arms of the interferometer that lie between the two
beam splitters). Notice how the QHD uses a CRS as a local oscillator. Adapted from Ref. [3]

= nei , (2)

which represents a complex phasor, encoding information in the amplitude n and phase of the field. The
quantity ||2 = n is the average number of photons in the field that is proportional to the return intensity of the
signal. We are only interested in the phase difference accumulated upon propagation, so we set = 0 to simplify
the expression to obtain

= n. (3)
Since this is a quantum system, n undergoes quantum fluctuations n upon measurement that can only be
neglected in the classical limit where these fluctuations are negligible compared to the measured value.
A coherent state input is mixed with vacuum via a 50/50 beam splitter. At the first beam splitter, we write
the resultant state as,

in in
|iA |0iB , (4)
where |0i represents quantum vacuum and represents a coherent state. After traversing the interferometer,
the output state becomes,
  out   out

| cos i | sin i , (5)
2 A 2 B

where = e( 2 ) , which is the attenuated coherent state, is the attenuation coefficient, and R is the range.

We assume that the lower path of the interferometer is attenuation free. The goal is to implement a parity
measurement at output port B. The way to do this is to obtain information about the average photon number
n coming in from the signal.
The expectation value of parity is proportional to the Wigner function of the output state, evaluated at the
origin in phase space. In other words,

hi = hein i = W (0, 0), (6)
where n = b b is the number operator and b is the mode operator for Bout . The Wigner function for a coherent
state is

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2 2
W (, ) = e2| | , (7)

where is the complex space coordinate and = sin 2 is the output coherent state in the mode Bout . The
corresponding radar intensity in the mode is proportional to the mean photon number, defined as,

n = | |2 = n sin2 . (8)

Combining all these equations together yields the following:

2 2
h | | i = e2| | = e2n sin ( 2 ) (9)

Therefore in order to obtain a parity measurement, one only needs to find the average photon number.
When comparing
the resulting curve with the classical Rayleigh diffraction limit, we find that the peaks are
a factor of 2 n narrower, meaning, we achieve a resolution that beats the classical radar techniques.
One approach into obtaining the average photon number is to simply measure the output intensity n directly
and plug this result into (9). However this is not advisable for several reasons. The low return photon numbers
make it difficult to obtain an accurate measurement since the return photons will be well below the thermal noise
floor. In addition, there will also be quantum fluctuations n as well as classical fluctuations due to atmospheric
conditions and so on. One must perform intensity differencing between the output modes Aout and Bout , to
cancel out any noise of the classical fluctuations.
The best way to obtain the average photon number is to perform a procedure called Quantum Homodyne
Detection. This method is extremely similar to its counterpart in classical radar theory, except instead of
mixing classical electromagnetic waves, one is mixing coherent states together via a 50/50 beam splitter. More
information can be found in Ref. [3], but a brief outline is presented here.

2.2 Quantum Homodyne Detection

Quantum homodyning is related to, and inspired by its classical radar counter part of a frequency mixer. This
section follows the development shown in Ref. [3]. In this scheme, two signals are mixed non-linearly. The output
port of the interferometer is mixed non-linearly through a 50/50 beam splitter with a local oscillator signal of
coherent photons. This local oscillator has a well defined phase (LO ) and we can write the state coming out of
the oscillator as

|LO i = ||LO eiLO |i . (10)

The intensity of the local oscillator signal is much greater than the intensity of the incoming signal of photons;
thus, this method provides amplification to pull the signal photons out of the thermal noise floor. The two outputs
of the mixing are then guided to two detectors where the intensity between them is differenced. The intensity
difference is a function of the unknown range phase of the target.
The intensity difference between the two detectors, can be shown to be

Y (LO , ) = 2 n nLO sin(LO ). (11)

Putting these equations together (after setting the phase of the local oscillator to 90 degrees), along with (9)
gives us the following:

Y 2 ( )
2 2
S() = hi = e 2nLO
= en sin ()/2

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where again, Y (/2, ) is the measured normalized intensity difference between the two output signal of the beam
splitter. This result is an advantage of just simply finding the average photon number of the return photons,
as we gain control over the signal to noise and have done away for the need to photon-number resolving radar
detectors. This setup is able to measure photon numbers as low as a single photon.
In the interferometer design of this experiment, there were two output branches leading to Aout and Bout .
So far we have only focused on Bout , but we should shift our focus on Aout as well. If the total phase difference
between the reference arm and the target is equal or close to zero ( = T R 0), then most of the signal
photons will be going into this output port. It is for this reason that a tunable phase shifter is set up in port B
in a feedback loop to always keep the total phase close to zero. That way, most of the photons only go into one
branch of the output ports.
When doing this however, it moves the phase to a point where super-sensitivity cannot be achieved. In order
to combat this, we use the information obtained in port B. By setting the phase of the local oscillator equal to
LO = /2, and plugging this information back into Y, we obtain the following:

YA (/2, ) = nLO n sin . (13)

We can then plug this into (12) and expand in a Taylor series expansion since 0 by the tunable phase
shifter. This yields

2 2
SA () = en sin ()/2
en /2
. (14)

The output signals of the two ports are then averaged to give the best estimate of the range phase.
Homodyne detection can also be used to find super-sensitive angle information as well as range. This is
discussed further in Ref. [3]. While it is unclear if homodyne has been experimentally proven for angular
information, it has been proven for range information. Meaning that the fundamental working principles of a
coherent state radar have already been done, the next step is to put everything together into a working device.


This section discusses a design scheme proposed by Bassyouni6 for an entangled quantum radar. A couple of
different schemes have been proposed, but they all are very similar. The block diagram for the entanglement
radar scheme is shown in Figure 2.
The method for entangled photon creation that is proposed is that of spontaneous parametric down conversion
(SPDC). The SPDC process creates a signal photon, and an idler photon that are both entangled. The signal
photon beam is sent towards the target via an antenna. The idler photon beam is sent directly into the idler
detector array, which will be used to detect the quantum state.
As soon as the transmitted signal impinges on the target, the idler detector output simultaneously appears
and waits in the memory until the returned signal is processed in the receiver and detected into the signal
detector array.
The signal and idler detector outputs are applied to the coincidence estimator and signal processing modules
to process the target parameters. In order to measure more than one parameter for a given state, the signal is
split via a beam splitter array into multiple signals. Each signal is then sent into a detector that is designed to
detect certain properties about the signal. This is shown in Figure 3.
Only one quantum state can pass through one of the many beam splitting paths. But the entanglement radar
works on the principle of sending out multiple entangled photons. Upon reception of these photons, they will
randomly go through different paths of the beam splitter array and eventually all paths will be taken.
It is important to realize that this specific design is restricted to the optical regime since the process of SPDC
emits optical photons. However, the same design could be implemented if the SPDC process is replaced with a
microwave photon generation process.

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Idler Beam
Photodetector Splitter
Array C Array

Computer and Control 41( Coincidence Signal

Estimator Photodetector


Figure 2. Block diagram of a proposed entanglement radar design presented in Ref. [6]. The photon source is a spontaneous
parametric down conversion (SPDC). The signal photon travels out the antenna and the idler photon gets sent into the
receiver, where it is held until the arrival of the return signal. The two photons are then sent into the coincidence estimator
and information is retrieved from the received data. Adapted from Ref. [6].

Photodetector Array

IRange Detector

Azimuth Detector I'mm_

I Elevation Detector 1 Beam Splitter SIGNAL FROM


Velocity Detector

Image Detector

Figure 3. Array detector for obtaining information about the targets parameters. The echo signal is split into multiple
different signals via a beam splitter. From here, each split signal can go into a different measurement device to ascertain
data. Adapted from Ref. [6].


The following is a conceptual design, showing an idea to implement a working quantum radar using the concept
of coherent states. It was explained in Section 2, that one can use quantum homodyne techniques to achieve a
resolution that is much better than its classical counterpart. It was also mentioned that high resolution angle
determination could also be obtained using a similar procedure. To obtain angle information, one uses two
resonant cavities and channel the incoming signal from each resonance cavity to a quantum homodyne detector
after mixing them with a 50/50 beam splitter. This is shown in more detail in Figure 4.
The incoming signal impinges on the two resonant cavities at different times and therefore has a phase

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Figure 4. Obtaining high resolution angle information using a quantum homodyne technique. The return signal comes
back as a plane wave and impinges upon the two resonant cavities at different times, thereby having a phase associated
with it. This phase difference can be used to ascertain the angle from which the reflected signal returned. Adapted from
Ref. [3].

associated with it. This phase can be used to ascertain the angle in which the wave came from. The signals
from the two cavities undergo intensity differencing in the same manner as discussed previously. The phase
difference between the two signals is proportional to the difference in intensity. From this phase difference, the
angle information can be obtained.
In order to implement both the angle and range measurements, both schemes described above must be
combined into one unit. Figure 5 shows the setup for such a design. Two resonant cavities are set up along one
axis to obtain azimuth information, while two other sets of resonant cavities are set up on the perpendicular axis
to obtain elevation information. This arrangement provides angular localization of the target in three dimensional
space. In the middle of these two sets of cavities is the receiver for obtaining range information. The middle
receiver connects to a system shown in Figure 1, and the two sets of cavities connects to a system shown in
Figure 4. A similar scheme was successfully demonstrated using correlation processing of a noise radar system
using two separated receive antennas7.

Range Receiver

0/ Elevation Detection
aua u m

Qua tum
Ran e
Pete tor

Azimuth Detection Quantum

Ph s
Cavities Derecmr

Figure 5. Block diagram of the proposed coherent state radar. There are two sets of resonant cavities. One set is used to
measure the azimuth angle, while the other set is used to measure the elevation angle. The receiver in the middle is used
to ascertain range information. Signal from each set of resonant cavities is sent to a quantum angle detector, while the
middle receiver signal is sent to a quantum range detector. These detectors perform quantum homodyne detection and
send information to a computer for processing.

Information obtained from each set of receivers / cavities will be fed into a computer. The computer will

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analyze the data from the center position detector, and all four resonant cavities and create a vector what has
range, azimuth, and elevation information.

Quantum radar provides a way to dramatically enhance the resolution in comparison to its classical radar
counterpart. In the case of entanglement radar, also has the ability to detect stealth aircrafts and weaponry2.
Both types of quantum radar, entanglement and coherent state, have their pros and cons. Entanglement radar
seems to provide much better resolution than coherent state radar, yet is much harder to implement physically
due to the fragility of the entanglement and other technological issues3. Coherent state radar is much easier to
implement, and has been done in special cases already, but does not have as much resolution as its entanglement
All in all, coherent state radar seems to be the best approach to go in terms of an engineering perspective.
Entanglement radar is still a bit out of reach due to many problems. One major problem is the fact that a reliable
and stable single entangled photon transmitter in the microwave regime has yet to be created. Ref. [8] discusses
a proposed method to create entangled microwave photon pairs using intraband transitions in quantum dots. All
the models so far that have been proposed have had a photon source come from spontaneous parametric down
conversion (SPDC) methods. The problem with this is that SPDC emits photons in the visible or near visible
regime, and therefore would not be practical for microwave radar applications. However, an optical radar may
be implemented and tested in the near future.

1. Shapiro J.H., and Lloyd S., Quantum illumination versus coherent-state target detection, New Journal of
Physics, 11(6): 063045, (Jun. 2009).
2. Lanzagorta, M., Quantum Radar. [San Rafael, Calif.]: Morgan & Claypool (2012).
3. Jiang K., Lee H., Gerry C.C., and Dowling J.P., Super-resolving quantum radar: Coherent-state sources
with homodyne detection suffice to beat the diffraction limit, Journal of Applied Physics, 114(19): 193102,
(Nov. 2013).
4. Lanzagorta, M., Amplification of radar and lidar signatures using quantum sensors, [Proceedings of the
SPIE Conference Active and Passive Signatures IV ], Baltimore, MD, 87340C (2013)
5. Glauber R.J., Coherent and incoherent states of the radiation field, Physical Review, 131(6): 2766-2788,
(Sep. 1963).
6. Bassyouni A., A new radar system based on entangled photonic beam, in [Proceedings of the IASTED
International Conference on Antennas, Radar and Wave Propagation (ARP 2010)], Cambridge, MA, 109-
115, (Nov. 2010).
7. Narayanan, R.M., Mueller, R.D., and Palmer, R.D., Random noise radar interferometry, in [Proceedings of
the SPIE Conference on Radar Processing, Technology, and Applications], Denver, CO, 75-82 (Aug. 1996).
8. Emary, C., Trauzettel, B., and Beenakker, C.W.J., Emission of polarization-entangled microwave photons
from a pair of quantum dots, Physical Review Letters, 95(12): 127401 (16 Sep. 2005).

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