Amplifiers are crucial in every experiment carrying out a very sensitive measurement. However, they always degrade the information by adding noise. Quantum mechanics puts a limit on how small this degradation can be. Theoretically, the minimum noise energy added by a phase-preserving amplifier to the signal it processes amounts at least to half a photon at the signal frequency. Here we propose a practical microwave device that can fulfil the minimal requirements to reach the quantum limit. The availability of such a device is of importance for the readout of solid-state qubits, and more generally for the measurement of very weak signals in various areas of science. We discuss how this device can be the basic building block for a variety of practical applications, such as amplification, noiseless frequency conversion, dynamic cooling and production of entangled signal pairs.
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This work was supported by NSA through ARO grant number W911NF-05-01-0365, the Keck foundation and the NSF through grant number DMR-032-5580. M.H.D. acknowledges partial support from College de France. We are indebted to B. Abdo for help with the proof corrections.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Bergeal, N., Vijay, R., Manucharyan, V. et al. Analog information processing at the quantum limit with a Josephson ring modulator. Nature Phys 6, 296–302 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys1516
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