We demonstrate experimental excitation-manifold-resolved polarization characterization of quantum states of light ranging from the few-photon to the many-photon level. In contrast to the traditional characterization of polarization that is based on the Stokes parameters, we experimentally determine the Stokes vector of each excitation manifold separately. Only for states with a given photon number do the methods coincide. For states with an indeterminate photon number, for example Gaussian states, the employed method gives a richer and more accurate description. We apply the method both in theory and in experiment to some common states to demonstrate its advantages. © 2013 American Physical Society.
- Quantum theory