Is a single photon's wave front observable?
journal contributionposted on 16.12.2015, 11:33 by Alexandre Zagoskin, Richard D. Wilson, Mark Everitt, Sergey Savel'ev, Dmitry R. Gulevich, J. Allen, V.K. Dubrovich, E. Il'ichev
We propose a method of resolving a spatially coherent signal, which contains on average just a single photon, against the background of local noise at the same frequency. The method is based on detecting the signal simultaneously in several points more than a wavelength apart through the entangling interaction of the incoming photon with the quantum metamaterial sensor array. The interaction produces the spatially correlated quantum state of the sensor array, characterised by a collective observable (e.g., total magnetic moment), which is read out using a quantum nondemolition measurement. We show that the effects of local noise (e.g., fluctuations affecting the elements of the array) are suppressed relative to the signal from the spatially coherent field of the incoming photon as ~1√N, where N is the number of array elements. The realisation of this approach in the microwave range would be especially useful and is within the reach of current experimental techniques.