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Discriminating distinguishability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number043839
Number of pages16
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number4
Early online date19 Oct 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 11 Sep 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 19 Oct 2018
DatePublished (current) - Oct 2018


Particle distinguishability is a significant challenge for quantum technologies, in particular photonics where the Hong-Ou-Mandel (HOM) effect clearly demonstrates it is detrimental to quantum interference. We take a representation theoretic approach in first quantisation, separating particles' Hilbert spaces into degrees of freedom that we control and those we do not, yielding a quantum information inspired bipartite model where distinguishability can arise as correlation with an environment carried by the particles themselves. This makes clear that the HOM experiment is an instance of a (mixed) state discrimination protocol, which can be generalised to interferometers that discriminate unambiguously between ideal indistinguishable states and interesting distinguishable states, leading to bounds on the success probability of an arbitrary HOM generalisation for multiple particles and modes. After setting out the first quantised formalism in detail, we consider several scenarios and provide a combination of analytical and numerical results for up to nine photons in nine modes. Although the Quantum Fourier Transform features prominently, we see that it is suboptimal for discriminating completely distinguishable states.

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