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Title: Quantum optical measurements for practical estimation and information thermodynamics
Author: Vidrighin, Mihai-Dorian
ISNI:       0000 0004 6348 6108
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2017
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The implementation of optical quantum technologies requires precise and complete characterisation tools for multi-mode nonclassical states of light. In this thesis, we propose and we implement experimentally three applications of optical quantum measurements, which combine aspects of light that are described by both discrete and continuous variables. In the rst part of this thesis, we present a new scheme for interferometric phase estimation, which uses double homodyne measurements as an alternative to photon counting. We show that, without requiring a phase reference, this scheme can achieve the optimum phase estimation precision for all path-symmetric probe states with a de ned number of photons. Furthermore, the estimation procedure is robust against state preparation imperfections, and naturally yields the same precision for all values of the estimated phase. We implement the proposed scheme experimentally, using a polarisation interferometer probed by a single-photon signal, and temporally multiplexing a single homodyne detector. We repeat the experiment with classical probe states. For both cases, we demonstrate the accuracy and precision of the proposed method, our implementation deviating by 5% from the fundamental precision bound. We demonstrate that, in our scheme, single-photon probe states can provide better precision than weak coherent ones. These results indicate that hybrid quantum resources, which combine tools from the discrete and continuous-variable paradigms, can play a signi cant role in practical sensing scenarios. In the second part of this thesis, we present an application in the eld of information thermodynamics, reporting an experimental realisation, in a photonic setup, of Maxwell's demon. We show that a measurement at the few-photons level, followed by a feed-forward operation, allows the extraction of work from intense thermal light into an electric circuit. The interpretation of the experiment leads us to the derivation of an equality relating work extraction to information acquired by measurement. We prove a bound using this relation, and show that it is in agreement with the experimental results. Our work puts forward photonic systems as a platform for experiments in the eld of information thermodynamics. In the third part of this thesis, we present a new method for the characterisation of broadband parametric down-conversion, based on stimulated frequency generation. In particular, we analyse the information contained in the frequency generation produced in the same mode as a seeding beam, for a type-II down-conversion process. We derive a model for this signal and argue that its detection can provide a useful characterisation tool in the high-gain regime, allowing for a self-referenced estimation of squeezing gain. We propose a method for measuring this signal and present an experimental realisation, based on a wave-guided source, at telecommunication wavelengths. Our experimental results demonstrate that the proposed measurement is an e ective experimental handle for discerning the intricate structure of broadband parametric down-conversion.
Supervisor: Kim, Myungshik ; Walmsley, Ian A. Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral