Non-classical light for quantum information
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Non-classical light is both easily encoded with quantum information and robust against decoherence, making it a key resource that enables many quantum information applications including quantum computing, quantum communication, and quantum metrology. We present a wide range of experimental and theoretical research toward the generation, detection, characterization, and storage of non-classical states of light with an eye toward quantum information applications. To provide a basis for the rest of the work, we begin by discussing theoretically the role of photon number statistics in optical quantum information and the use of second-order optical coherence to characterize non-classical light. Building on that, we present an original tool for the difficult problem of reconstructing the underlying mode distribution of multi-mode optical fields using simple measurements of higher-order optical coherence. We then move on to the problem of generating and storing single photons. We do this in a solid-state medium, a rare-earth ion-doped crystal, with a long-lived spin transition ideal for storing quantum information. We experimentally demonstrate the feasibility of this concept by showing correlations between the optical fields that herald storage and retrieval of collective excitations. This scheme can be used for the two important and distinct applications of generating single photons on-demand and storing quantum information and entanglement. The detection of non-classical light is a task as important as its generation. To this end, we study detectors with near unity detection efficiency and photon number resolution for use in quantum-enabled metrology. We use such a detector to experimentally demonstrate compression of spatial fringes and investigate the possibility of improving measurement resolution with classical and non-classical light. Finally, we report a set of experiments using photon number statistics to characterize classical and non-classical light. We measure suppression of unwanted multi-photon emission in a heralded single photon source based on four-wave mixing in microstructure optical fiber. And we, for the first time, experimentally demonstrate reconstruction of multi-mode classical and non-classical light from measured photon number statistics.