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Direct generation of three-photon polarization entanglement

Abstract

Non-classical states of light are of fundamental importance for emerging quantum technologies. All optics experiments producing multi-qubit entangled states have until now relied on outcome post-selection, a procedure where only the measurement results corresponding to the desired state are considered. This method severely limits the usefulness of the resulting entangled states. Here, we show the direct production of polarization-entangled photon triplets by cascading two entangled downconversion processes. Detecting the triplets with high-efficiency superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors allows us to fully characterize them through quantum state tomography. We use our three-photon entangled state to demonstrate the ability to herald Bell states, a task that was not possible with previous three-photon states, and test local realism by violating the Mermin and Svetlichny inequalities. These results represent a significant breakthrough for entangled multi-photon state production by eliminating the constraints of outcome post-selection, providing a novel resource for optical quantum information processing.

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Figure 1: Polarization entangled photons using cascaded spontaneous parametric downconversion.
Figure 2: Measurement to determine optimal phase.
Figure 3: Two-dimensional histogram of time differences between detected photon events.
Figure 4: Reconstructed three-photon density matrix.
Figure 5: Real and imaginary parts of the reconstructed density matrices of the heralded two-photon states.

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Acknowledgements

This work was financially supported by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Researcher Award, QuantumWorks, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Industry Canada, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Canada Research Chairs and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. The authors thank T. Zhao for contributions to the phase-stabilization software.

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Authors

Contributions

D.R.H., L.K.S., H.H., K.J.R. and T.J. planned the experiment. D.R.H., L.K.S. and H.H. built the experimental set-up. D.R.H. carried out the experiment and analysed the data. A.J.M., F.M., V.B.V., R.P.M. and S.W.N. developed the detector system. All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Deny R. Hamel or Thomas Jennewein.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Hamel, D., Shalm, L., Hübel, H. et al. Direct generation of three-photon polarization entanglement. Nature Photon 8, 801–807 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2014.218

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