Engineering Schrödinger cat states with a photonic even-parity detector

G. S. Thekkadath1, B. A. Bell1, I. A. Walmsley1, and A. I. Lvovsky1,2

1Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PU, UK
2Russian Quantum Center, 100 Novaya St., Skolkovo, Moscow 143025, Russia

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When two equal photon-number states are combined on a balanced beam splitter, both output ports of the beam splitter contain only even numbers of photons. Consider the time-reversal of this interference phenomenon: the probability that a pair of photon-number-resolving detectors at the output ports of a beam splitter both detect the same number of photons depends on the overlap between the input state of the beam splitter and a state containing only even photon numbers. Here, we propose using this even-parity detection to engineer quantum states containing only even photon-number terms. As an example, we demonstrate the ability to prepare superpositions of two coherent states with opposite amplitudes, i.e. two-component Schrödinger cat states. Our scheme can prepare cat states of arbitrary size with nearly perfect fidelity. Moreover, we investigate engineering more complex even-parity states such as four-component cat states by iteratively applying our even-parity detector.

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