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Simultaneous, Full Characterization of a Single-Photon State



Tim O. Thomay, Sergey Polyakov, Elizabeth A. Goldschmidt, Glenn S. Solomon, Olivier Gazzano, Vivien Loo


As single-photon sources become more mature and are used more often in quantum information, communications, and measurement applications, their characterization becomes more important. Single-photon-like light is often characterized by its brightness, as well as two quantum properties: the suppression of multiphoton content and the photon indistinguishability. While it is desirable to obtain these quantities from a single measurement, currently two or more measurements are required. Here, we show that using two-photon (n=2) number-resolving detectors, one can completely characterize single-photon-like states in a single measurement, where previously two or more measurements were necessary. We simultaneously determine the brightness, the suppression of multiphoton states, the indistinguishability, and the statistical distribution of Fock states to third order for a quantum light source. We find n≥3 number-resolving detectors provide no additional advantage in the single-photon characterization. The new method extracts more information per experimental trial than a conventional measurement for all input states and is particularly more efficient for statistical mixtures of photon states. Thus, using this n=2 number-resolving detector scheme will provide advantages in a variety of quantum optics measurements and systems.
Physical Review X


quantum dots, quantum optics, photon number statistics, quantum measurement


Thomay, T. , Polyakov, S. , Goldschmidt, E. , Solomon, G. , Gazzano, O. and Loo, V. (2017), Simultaneous, Full Characterization of a Single-Photon State, Physical Review X, [online],, (Accessed July 16, 2024)


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Created November 15, 2017, Updated October 12, 2021