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Title: Distinguishability in quantum interference
Author: Jones, Alexander Edward
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2019
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Quantum interference constitutes one of the sharpest divides between our classical intuition and the weirdness of the quantum world. Whenever there are multiple paths leading to the same outcome, it is the interplay of associated probability amplitudes that determines measurement results. In the double slit experiment, wave-like interference governs the distribution of particles on a detection screen. Extending to multiple particles allows behaviour that cannot be described by a classical wave, such as the bunching of photon pairs in Hong-Ou-Mandel interference. In both these examples, the ability to distinguish the interfering paths leads to degradation of interference and a return to behaviour described by probabilities. Understanding how this transition evolves for larger multiparticle quantum systems is of fundamental interest and also vital for developing photonic quantum technologies that rely on many-photon interference. In this thesis we investigate the role of distinguishability in the interference of three and four independent photons by using polarisation and time delays. For three photons, a new type of collective distinguishing phase appears that goes beyond a pairwise description of the similarity of quantum states. We use nonlinear photon sources and a fibre interferometer to experimentally demonstrate the ability to tune and isolate this phase in interference statistics. Extending to four photons we show that, contrary to intuition from two-photon experiments, the interference of photons prepared in distinguishable states is possible due to a four-particle phase. This is confirmed experimentally using a bulk four-mode interferometer. We then extend our study to include the effects of state impurity in the interference of three photons. New properties of this interference enable diagnosis of realistic experimental imperfections and characterisation tasks impossible using only two photons. Finally, we link discussions of state distinguishability to the group representations underpinning the exchange symmetry of multiparticle wavefunctions.
Supervisor: Walmsley, Ian ; Kim, Myungshik Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral