Security is increased in quantum communication (QC) systems lacking a true single-photon laser source by encoding a transmitted optical signal with two or more decoy-states. A variable attenuator or amplitude modulator randomly imposes average photon values onto the optical signal based on data input and the predetermined decoy-states. By measuring and comparing photon distributions for a received QC signal, a single-photon transmittance is estimated. Fiber birefringence is compensated by applying polarization modulation. A transmitter can be configured to transmit in conjugate polarization bases whose states of polarization (SOPs) can be represented as equidistant points on a great circle on the Poincare sphere so that the received SOPs are mapped to equidistant points on a great circle and routed to corresponding detectors. Transmitters are implemented in quantum communication cards and can be assembled from micro-optical components, or transmitter components can be fabricated as part of a monolithic or hybrid chip-scale circuit.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
 This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-AC52-06NA25396 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.