The production of pairs of entangled photons simply by focusing a laser beam onto a crystal with a nonlinear optical response was used to test quantum mechanics and to open new approaches in imaging. The development of the latter was enabled by the emergence of single-photon-sensitive cameras that are able to characterize spatial correlations and high-dimensional entanglement. Thereby, new techniques emerged, such as ghost imaging of objects — in which the quantum correlations between photons reveal the image from photons that have never interacted with the object — or imaging with undetected photons by using nonlinear interferometers. In addition, quantum approaches in imaging can also lead to an improvement in the performance of conventional imaging systems. These improvements can be obtained by means of image contrast, resolution enhancement that exceeds the classical limit and acquisition of sub-shot-noise phase or amplitude images. In this Review, we discuss the application of quantum states of light for advanced imaging techniques.
Improvements in available camera technologies have enabled the efficient detection and characterization of quantum behaviours in continuous spatial variables.
The use of cameras in the context of quantum optics allows the detection and use of high-dimensional quantum states.
Quantum states of light can be harnessed to implement quantum imaging protocols that allow improved imaging over classical techniques; such protocols can lead to improved estimation of the transmission, reflectance and phase of an imaged object, in addition to offering improved resolution images of the object.
Quantum imaging techniques allow new types of imaging, such as ghost imaging, quantum imaging with undetected photons or the implementation of interaction-free measurements in the context of imaging.
Sources of pairs of photons with different wavelengths allow the lack of high-fidelity detectors at exotic wavelengths to be overcome through ghost imaging techniques and quantum nonlinear interferometric imaging techniques.
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This work was funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC; QuantIC EP/M01326X/1) and the European Research Council (TWISTS, 340507, grant no. 192382). P.-A.M. acknowledges the support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship grant agreement no. 706410, of the Leverhulme Trust through the Research Project Grant ECF-2018-634 and of the Lord Kelvin/Adam Smith Leadership Fellowship scheme. E.T. acknowledges the financial support from the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training Intelligent Sensing and Measurement (EP/L016753/1). T.G. acknowledges the financial support from the EPSRC (EP/N509668/1) and the Professor Jim Gatheral quantum technology studentship.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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- Quantum decoherence
The loss of quantum coherence of a quantum system through its interaction with the environment. This loss of coherence leads to the collapse of the system wavefunction, which leads to loose quantum superposition or entanglement.
A variable exhibits sub-shot-noise statistics if the noise on that variable is smaller than the shot noise. The shot noise is due to the discrete and independent arrival of photons, which exhibits Poisson statistics.
- Quantum squeezing
A state is said to be squeezed if the noise of one observable measured on that state is below the symmetric Heisenberg limit; this implies that the conjugate variable noise is itself above that limit, as imposed by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
- Field quadratures
Operators that correspond to the real and imaginary parts of the amplitude of the quantized electromagnetic field. They compose a basis for the phase space of the quantized field.
- Quantum non-demolition measurement
A type of measurement of a quantum system that preserves the uncertainty of the measured observable. This implies, in particular, that the system is not destroyed by the measurement, for example, a measured photon would not be absorbed during the measurement process.
- Homodyne detectors
A detector used to measure different components of the quantized electromagnetic phase space. It is based on detecting the interference occurring on the two outputs of a beam splitter that mixes a controlled bright local oscillator and the state of light that is to be measured.
- Thermal light
Light whose statistic is similar to that of thermal radiation. As a result, such light is subject to super-Poissonian intensity fluctuations.
- NOON states
A state composed of N particles in a superposition of being all in one mode or all in a second mode.
- LiDAR systems
A system that emits light pulses and measures the time-of-flight of their echoes to assess the distance to reflecting objects. It is based on the same principle as a RADAR system but uses light instead of radio waves.
- Photon anti-bunching
A property of light in which photons are more evenly spaced in time than in an ideal laser beam (coherent state). Anti-bunched light will exhibit sub-shot-noise statistics over time.
- Hanbury Brown–Twiss effect
A correlation effect observed between the intensities detected by two detectors when each receive light from two independent sources. It requires the interference of two photons to occur to be explained at a quantum level.
- Weak measurements
Measurements for which the measuring device is weakly coupled with the measured system. Weak measurements disturb the measured system less than conventional projective measurements.
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Moreau, PA., Toninelli, E., Gregory, T. et al. Imaging with quantum states of light. Nat Rev Phys 1, 367–380 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42254-019-0056-0
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