Quantum Optics INRIM

Quantum Imaging and Sensing

Quantum imaging and sensing aim at exploiting entanglement and quantum correlation to step over classical limitation in sensitivity and resolution. Conventional optical measurements are affected by fundamental limits that comes from the quantum fluctuation of the optical field. Shot noise turns out from the discretization of the energy in photons and from the randomness of the photon emission from conventional (classical) sources. However, quantum mechanics does not prevent to build sources which are more stable, e.g.  producing a regular stream of equidistant photons or entangled beams where photons are perfectly correlated in any degree of freedom. Engineering these states, manipulate and efficiently detect them, allows to reduce uncertainty in measurements and to go beyond classical paradigms such as the Rayleigh diffraction limit and shot-noise limit. 

In the group, we have realized several “first” experimental demonstration of quantum imaging and sensing protocols:  wide field sub shot noise imaging and microscopy without resorting to post-selection; quantum enhanced target detection in a preponderant background, known as ‘quantum illumination’; super-resolution fluorescence microscopy with photon antibunching from NV centers; absolute calibration of CCD cameras by quantum correlations; quantum reading and lossy channel discrimination. We also enjoy exploring possible real application of quantum inspired techniques, for example ‘ghost imaging’.

Recent highlights

Twin beam quantum-enhanced correlated interferometry for testing fundamental physics

S. T. Pradyumna et al., Communications Physics 3, Article number: 104 (2020)

Quantum metrology deals with improving the resolution of instruments that are otherwise limited by shot noise and it is therefore a promising avenue for enabling scientific breakthroughs. The advantage can be even more striking when quantum enhancement is combined with correlation techniques among several devices. Here, we present and realize a correlation interferometry scheme exploiting bipartite quantum correlated states injected in two independent interferometers. The scheme outperforms classical analogues in detecting a faint signal that may be correlated/uncorrelated between the two devices. We also compare its sensitivity with that obtained for a pair of two independent squeezed modes, each addressed to one interferometer, for detecting a correlated stochastic signal in the MHz frequency band. Being the simpler solution, it may eventually find application to fundamental physics tests, e.g., searching for the effects predicted by some Planck scale theories.

Quantum enhanced non-interferometric quantitative phase imaging

Ortolano, G., Paniate, A., Boucher, P. et al.  Light Sci Appl 12, 171 (2023).

Quantum entanglement and squeezing have significantly improved phase estimation and imaging in interferometric settings beyond the classical limits. However, for a wide class of non-interferometric phase imaging/retrieval methods vastly used in the classical domain, e.g., ptychography and diffractive imaging, a demonstration of quantum advantage is still missing. Here, we fill this gap by exploiting entanglement to enhance imaging of a pure phase object in a non-interferometric setting, only measuring the phase effect on the free-propagating field. This method, based on the so-called “transport of intensity equation", is quantitative since it provides the absolute value of the phase without prior knowledge of the object and operates in wide-field mode, so it does not need time-consuming raster scanning. Moreover, it does not require spatial and temporal coherence of the incident light. Besides a general improvement of the image quality at a fixed number of photons irradiated through the object, resulting in better discrimination of small details, we demonstrate a clear reduction of the uncertainty in the quantitative phase estimation. Although we provide an experimental demonstration of a specific scheme in the visible spectrum, this research also paves the way for applications at different wavelengths, e.g., X-ray imaging, where reducing the photon dose is of utmost importance.

Experimental quantum reading with photon counting

G. Ortolano et al., SCIENCE ADVANCES 20 Vol 7, Issue 4 (2020)

The final goal of quantum hypothesis testing is to achieve quantum advantage over all possible classical strategies. In the protocol of quantum reading, this is achieved for information retrieval from an optical memory, whose generic cell stores a bit of information in two possible lossy channels. We show, theoretically and experimentally, that quantum advantage is obtained by practical photon-counting measurements combined with a simple maximum-likelihood decision. In particular, we show that this receiver combined with an entangled two-mode squeezed vacuum source is able to outperform any strategy based on statistical mixtures of coherent states for the same mean number of input photons. Our experimental findings demonstrate that quantum entanglement and simple optics are able to enhance the readout of digital data, paving the way to real applications of quantum reading and with potential applications for any other model that is based on the binary discrimination of bosonic loss.

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