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U of T physicists squeeze light to quantum limit
Date:1/6/2009

together inside an optical fibre, to create a triphoton. "A strange feature of quantum physics is that when several identical photons are combined, as they are in optical fibres such as those used to carry the internet to our homes, they undergo an "identity crisis" and one can no longer tell what an individual photon is doing," Steinberg says. The authors then squeezed the triphotonic state to glean the quantum information that was encoded in the triphotons polarization. (Polarization is a property of light which is at the basis of 3D movies, glare-reducing sunglasses, and a coming wave of advanced technologies such as quantum cryptography.)

In all previous work, it was assumed that one could squeeze indefinitely, simply tolerating the growth of uncertainty in the uninteresting direction. "But the world of polarization, like the Earth, is not flat," says Steinberg.

"A state of polarization can be thought of as a small continent floating on a sphere. When we squeezed our triphoton continent, at first all proceeded as in earlier experiments. But when we squeezed sufficiently hard, the continent lengthened so much that it began to "wrap around" the surface of the sphere," he says.

"To take the metaphor further, all previous experiments were confined to such small areas that the sphere, like your home town, looked as though it was flat. This work needed to map the triphoton on a globe, which we represented on a sphere providing an intuitive and easily applicable visualization. In so doing, we showed for the first time that the spherical nature of polarization creates qualitatively different states and places a limit on how much squeezing is possible," says Steinberg.

"Creating this special combined state allows the limits to squeezing to be properly studied," says Rob Adamson. "For the first time, we have demonstrated a technique for generating any desired triphoton state and shown that t
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Contact: Kim Luke
kim.luke@utoronto.ca
416-978-4352
University of Toronto
Source:Eurekalert

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