Experimental state tomography of itinerant single microwave photons

Phys Rev Lett. 2011 Jun 3;106(22):220503. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.220503. Epub 2011 Jun 1.


A wide range of experiments studying microwave photons localized in superconducting cavities have made important contributions to our understanding of the quantum properties of radiation. Propagating microwave photons, however, have so far been studied much less intensely. Here we present measurements in which we reconstruct the quantum state of itinerant single photon Fock states and their superposition with the vacuum by analyzing moments of the measured amplitude distribution up to fourth order. Using linear amplifiers and quadrature amplitude detectors, we have developed efficient methods to separate the detected single photon signal from the noise added by the amplifier. From our measurement data we have also reconstructed the corresponding Wigner function.