Encoding, manipulating and measuring quantum information in optics

  • Langford N
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In this thesis, I present experimental and theoretical work which assesses and develops a range of tools that are required for performing quantum information processing, particularly in photonic systems. I investigate the three degrees of freedom of a single photon—its polarisation, spatial-momentum and time-frequency distributions. For polarisation, I show that using wave plates to implement arbitrary, single-qubit rotations is more complicated than is commonly appreciated. In the spatial-momentum and time-frequency domains, I develop ways to perform tomographic analysis of quantum states, and I report the first demonstrations of these techniques. In the time-frequency domain, the tomography technique utilises entanglement in the photon polarisation as a resource to store and provide access to the time-frequency information. In my first two experiments, I use spontaneous parametric downconversion to produce entanglement between pairs of single photons in all three degrees of freedom. I demonstrate the first characterisation of entanglement in spatial modes and the time-frequency domain, the first quantitative measurement of entangled qutrit states, and the highest quality entangled states yet measured in both polarisation and spatial modes. I also re- port the first realisation of complete hyperentanglement, and a full, black-box tomography of a 36-dimensional two-photon state—the largest system to be characterised in this way to date. In my final experiment, I model and implement a new architecture for a controlled-Z gate which is much simpler to align than previous implementations. This gate requires only one non-classical interference condition, the visibility of which is the main limitation to its performance. I show that the gate operates effectively as a means of both creating entanglement and discriminating between the four elements in a basis of maximally en- tangled, Bell-type states. Indeed, its observed performance as a Bell analyser would be sufficient to build a quantum state teleporter which would guarantee that the recipient would be left with a better copy of an unknown input state than any eavesdropper. In a series of numerical simulations, I investigate some of the practicalities that arise when using tomographic reconstruction techniques, including how to estimate errors, which measurements to make and what is actually the optimal reconstruction. In particular, I show that tomographies perform better when based on the results from overcomplete sets of measurements. Finally, I discuss the important issue of how to compare two processes, particularly when trying to assess the quality of a measured process by comparing it to some ex- pected ideal. Judging possible candidate measures against a set of experimentally and theoretically motivated criteria eliminates all but a small number which have particularly promising characteristics.

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  • Nathan K Langford

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