Quantum enhanced optical sensing

Clemens Schäfermeier

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

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The work in this thesis is embedded in the framework of quantum metrology and explores quantum effects in solid state emitters and optical sensing. Specifically, the thesis comprises studies on silicon vacancy centres in nanodiamonds, phase measurements and cavity optomechanics utilising optical squeezed states, and a theoretical study on quantum amplifiers.
Due to its similarity to single atoms, colour centres in diamond are ideal objects for exploring and exploiting quantum effects, because they are comparably easy to produce, probe and maintain. While nitrogen vacancy centres are the most renowned colour centres, we studied the silicon vacancy (SiV−) centre. In bulk diamond it features strong zero-phonon-line emission and, at cryogenic temperatures, a linewidth of hundreds of MHz, but it displays a weak spin coherence in the order of ns. To suppress the relaxation process which limits the coherence time, we utilised SiV− centres in nanodiamond. By means of confocal microscopy and resonant excitation at cryogenic temperatures, we measured linewidths in recently developed nanodiamond which were an order of magnitude smaller compared to previous studies on SiV− nanodiamonds. Furthermore, we identified spectral diffusion as the main hindrance in extending spin coherence times. Overcoming this issue will provide a promising candidate as an emitter for quantum information. Next, the question of how squeezed states of light can improve optical sensing was addressed. For this purpose, a squeezed light source was designed and built from scratch, which achieved a noise suppression of −8 dB at an optical pump power of 40mW. The generated squeezed light was first used to demonstrate how Gaussian states and detection can beat the shot noise limit and Rayleigh criterion in phase measurements simultaneously. Compared to quantum phase measurements based on single photon states, this approach is inherently deterministic. In addition, the applied homodyne detection enables close-to-unity detection efficiencies and thereby outperforms single photon state strategies which rely on comparably inefficient or demanding detection techniques.
A second experiment combined squeezed light and feedback control to cool an optomechanical system. This proof-of-principle study is the first reported squeezing enhanced optomechanical cooling experiment. Despite losses of more than 50% (a resulting noise suppression of −2 dB), the mechanical resonator was cooled from room temperature to 130K. This represents a 12% improvement compared to the use of a coherent state protocol.
Finally, we theoretically investigated the fundamental properties of quantum amplifiers. Such devices can be used in information and sensing technology to amplify signals to overcome e.g. technical detection limitations. Amplified communication channels were characterised by applying the measure of mutual information I, as it offers strict bounds on the maximum achievable performance, which enabled a fair comparison between different applications scenarios. As a result, we identified two peculiar configurations: A configuration where amplification does not affect I, and a configuration where quantum correlations do not always lead to an enhanced I.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment of Physics, Technical University of Denmark
Number of pages200
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Quantum metrology
  • Colour centres
  • Diamond optics
  • Squeezed states
  • Cavity optomechanics
  • Interferometry
  • Quantum information


Cite this

Schäfermeier, C. (2016). Quantum enhanced optical sensing. Department of Physics, Technical University of Denmark.