Phase-preserving amplification near the quantum limit with a Josephson ring modulator

Nature. 2010 May 6;465(7294):64-8. doi: 10.1038/nature09035.


Recent progress in solid-state quantum information processing has stimulated the search for amplifiers and frequency converters with quantum-limited performance in the microwave range. Depending on the gain applied to the quadratures of a single spatial and temporal mode of the electromagnetic field, linear amplifiers can be classified into two categories (phase sensitive and phase preserving) with fundamentally different noise properties. Phase-sensitive amplifiers use squeezing to reduce the quantum noise, but are useful only in cases in which a reference phase is attached to the signal, such as in homodyne detection. A phase-preserving amplifier would be preferable in many applications, but such devices have not been available until now. Here we experimentally realize a proposal for an intrinsically phase-preserving, superconducting parametric amplifier of non-degenerate type. It is based on a Josephson ring modulator, which consists of four Josephson junctions in a Wheatstone bridge configuration. The device symmetry greatly enhances the purity of the amplification process and simplifies both its operation and its analysis. The measured characteristics of the amplifier in terms of gain and bandwidth are in good agreement with analytical predictions. Using a newly developed noise source, we show that the upper bound on the total system noise of our device under real operating conditions is three times the quantum limit. We foresee applications in the area of quantum analog signal processing, such as quantum non-demolition single-shot readout of qubits, quantum feedback and the production of entangled microwave signal pairs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.