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Hanbury Brown and Twiss measurements in curved space


When Hanbury Brown and Twiss (HBT) proposed their technique of intensity correlation measurements1,2,3 to examine the angular size of stars in the visible range, they challenged the common conception of quantum mechanics and kicked off a discussion that led to the establishment of quantum optics4,5,6. In this Letter we revisit this fundamental technique and study its implications in the presence of space curvature. To this end we theoretically and experimentally investigate the evolution of speckle patterns propagating along two-dimensional surfaces of constant positive and negative Gaussian curvature, defying the notion that light always gains spatial coherence during free-space propagation. We also discuss the measurability of the traversed space's curvature utilizing HBT from an inhabitant's point of view. Through their symmetry, surfaces with constant Gaussian curvature act as analogue models for universes possessing non-vanishing cosmological constants.

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Figure 1: Collection of surfaces with constant Gaussian curvature K.
Figure 2: Experimental set-up.
Figure 3: Experimental measurements of the second-order DOC function.
Figure 4: Simulations of speckle evolution on curved surfaces.


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The authors would like to express their gratitude to R. Keding and P. Schrehardt at the glass workshop of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (Erlangen) for their expertise in glass working. We are also grateful to T. Pertsch and F. Eilenberger from the University of Jena for providing a phase modulator. We gratefully acknowledge financial support by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) in the frame work of project PE 523/10-1 and the Cluster of Excellence Engineering of Advanced Materials (EAM).

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Authors and Affiliations



V.H.S. and S.B. derived the theory, V.H.S. and U.P. conceived and designed the experiments, V.H.S. performed the experiments and analysed the data, S.B. provided the MATLAB code for the simulations, V.H.S, S.B. and U.P. co-wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Ulf Peschel.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Schultheiss, V., Batz, S. & Peschel, U. Hanbury Brown and Twiss measurements in curved space. Nature Photon 10, 106–110 (2016).

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