Unconditional violation of the shot noise limit in photonic quantum metrology.
Quantum metrology exploits quantum correlations to perform measurements with precision higher than can be achieved with classical approaches. 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 various materials properties. Without quantum enhancement, the minimum uncertainty in determining an unknown optical phase---is the shot noise limit (SNL): 1/sqrt(n), where n is the number of resources (e.g. photons) used. Entangled photons promise measurement sensitivity surpassing the shot noise limit achievable with classical probes. The maximally phase-sensitive state is a path-entangled state of definite number of photons N. Despite theoretical proposals stretching back decades, no measurement using such photonic (definite photon number) states has unconditionally surpassed the shot noise limit: by contrast, all demonstrations have employed postselection to discount photon loss in the source, interferometer or detectors. Here, we use an ultra-high efficiency source and high efficiency superconducting photon detectors to respectively make and measure a two-photon instance of the maximally-phase-sensitive 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. Our results enable quantum-enahanced phase measurements at low photon flux and open the door to the next generation of optical quantum metrology advances.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1707.08977
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