Proceedings Article | 11 October 2018
Proc. SPIE. 10803, Quantum Information Science and Technology IV

KEYWORDS: Metrology, Optical sensing, Interferometers, Sensors, Photons, Interferometry, Precision measurement, Phase measurement, Quantum optics, Precision optics

Quantum metrology exploits quantum correlations to perform measurements with precision higher than can be achieved with classical approaches [1]. Photonic approaches promise transformative advances in the family of interferometric phase measurement techniques, a vital toolset used to precisely determine quantities including distance, velocity, acceleration and materials properties. Without quantum enhancement, the precision limit in optical phase sensing (i.e. the minimum uncertainty) is the shot noise limit (SNL): 1/sqrt(N) where N is the number of resources (e.g. photons) used. Entangled photons promise sensitivity surpassing the shot noise limit achievable with classical probes. The maximally phase-sensitive state is the NOON state [2], a path-entangled state of definite photon number N.
Despite theoretical proposals stretching back decades [3], no measurement using such photonic (i.e. definite photon number) states has unconditionally surpassed the shot noise limit: by contrast, all such demonstrations employed postselection to discount photon loss in the source, interferometer or detectors. Here, we use the state of art single photon generation and detection technology to respectively make and measure a two-photon NOON state, and use it to perform unconditional phase sensing beyond the shot noise limit — that is, without artificially correcting for loss or any other source of imperfection [4].
We performed a two-photon NOON state polarisation interferometry measurement on a birefringent test phase. We use photons generated from a high-heralding-efficiency, high purity source of telecom-wavelength photon pairs [5], and we employ high efficiency superconducting photon detectors. Unlike previous experiments, our apparatus does not require postselection to achieve phase uncertainty below that achievable in an ideal, lossless classical interferometer.
Our results show a clear violation (for a range of phases) of the stringent SNL Fisher-information bound, F_{SNL} = 2.09635, that takes into account the information in unrecorded trials arising from loss and higher order terms — making our demonstration unconditional. We also performed a direct phase sensing measurement and observed phase uncertainties more than 10 standard deviations below the SNL [4]. Our results enable quantum-enhanced phase measurements at low photon flux and open the door to the next generation of optical quantum metrology advances.
References
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[5] M. M. Weston, H. M. Chrzanowski, S. Wollmann, A. Boston, J. Ho, L. K. Shalm, V. B. Verma, M. S. Allman, S. W. Nam, R. B. Patel, S. Slussarenko, and G. J. Pryde, “Efficient and pure femtosecond-pulse length source of polarization-entangled photons,” Opt. Express 24, 10,869–10,879 (2016).