Optical State Measurement with a Two-component Probe

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Pegg, DT
Phillips, LS
Barnett, SM
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1999
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Abstract

A state of light which is a superposition of the vacuum and the one-photon number state is the simplest state containing phase information. Recently we have shown how a field in such a state might be generated and here we explore its usefulness as a probe for measuring unknown states of light. We find that this probe can be used reasonably simply both to determine completely some pure states of light and to measure the diagonal and nearest off-diagonal elements of the density matrix in the number state basis and hence to obtain the mean sine and cosine of the phase of an unknown mixed state. We suggest further how a field in a superposition of the vacuum and the two-photon number state might be generated and how this can be used as a probe, both to measure the off-diagonal matrix elements second nearest to the diagonal of a mixed state density matrix and to measure the variance of the cosine and the sine of the phase. We also examine the experimentally more likely case where the probe fields are in mixed states and show how the same information about the unknown state can still be retrieved.

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Journal of Modern Optics
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46
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6
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Atomic, molecular and optical physics
Quantum physics
Nanotechnology
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