Optimal multi-photon phase sensing with a single interference fringe
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Quantum entanglement can help to increase the precision of optical phase measurements beyond the shot noise limit (SNL) to the ultimate Heisenberg limit. However, the N-photon parity measurements required to achieve this optimal sensitivity are extremely difficult to realize with current photon detection technologies, requiring high-fidelity resolution of N + 1 different photon distributions between the output ports. Recent experimental demonstrations of precision beyond the SNL have therefore used only one or two photon-number detection patterns instead of parity measurements. Here we investigate the achievable phase sensitivity of the simple and efficient single interference fringe detection technique. We show that the maximally-entangled "NOON" state does not achieve optimal phase sensitivity when N > 4, rather, we show that the Holland-Burnett state is optimal. We experimentally demonstrate this enhanced sensitivity using a single photon-counted fringe of the six-photon Holland-Burnett state. Specifically, our single-fringe six-photon measurement achieves a phase variance three times below the SNL.
© 2013 Nature Publishing Group. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal website for access to the definitive, published version.
Quantum Information, Computation and Communication