Simple procedure for phase-space measurement and entanglement validation

It has recently been shown that it is possible to represent the complete quantum state of any system as a phase-space quasiprobability distribution (Wigner function) [Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 180401 (2016)]. Such functions take the form of expectation values of an observable that has a direct analogy to displaced parity operators. In this work we give a procedure for the measurement of the Wigner function that should be applicable to any quantum system. We have applied our procedure to IBM's Quantum Experience five-qubit quantum processor to demonstrate that we can measure and generate the Wigner functions of two different Bell states as well as the five-qubit Greenberger–Horne–Zeilinger state. Because Wigner functions for spin systems are not unique, we define, compare, and contrast two distinct examples. We show how the use of these Wigner functions leads to an optimal method for quantum state analysis especially in the situation where specific characteristic features are of particular interest (such as for spin Schrödinger cat states). Furthermore we show that this analysis leads to straightforward, and potentially very efficient, entanglement test and state characterization methods.