Optics, the study of light, is one of the oldest fields in physics and has not ceased to surprise researchers. Although the classic description of light as a wave phenomenon is rarely questioned, the physical origins of some optical effects are. A team of researchers at the University of Tampere has brought the discussion about one of the fundamental wave effects, the debate about the anomalous behavior of focused light waves, into the quantum field.
The researchers were able to show that quantum waves behave significantly differently from their classical counterparts and can be used to increase the accuracy of distance measurements. Their findings also add to the discussion about materialism the origin of abnormal focus behaviour. The results are now published in Nature Photonics.
“It is interesting that we started with an idea based on our previous findings and proceeded with the structure quantum light To improve measurement accuracy. However, we then realized that the underlying physics of this application also contribute to the long-running debate about the origins of atmospheric phase anomalies for focused light fields,” explains Robert Wechler, Group Leader of the Experimental Quantum Optics Group at the University of Tampere.
Quantum waves behave differently but point to the same origin
Over the past decades, methods for structuring light fields at the single-photon level have matured greatly and led to countless new discoveries. In addition, the best optics foundations were achieved. However, the physical origin of why light behaves in an unexpected way when passing through a focus, the so-called atmospheric phase anomaly, is still often debated. This is despite its widespread use and importance in optical systems. The novelty of the current study is now to put the effect in the quantitative domain.
“When developing the theory to describe our experimental results, we realized (after a long discussion) that the Gouy phase of quantum light is not only different from the standard phase, but that its origin can be linked to another quantum effect. This is very similar to what was speculated in previous work,” adds PhD researcher Marcus Hikamaki, lead author of the study.
In the quantum field, the anomalous behavior is accelerated when compared to classical light. Since Gouy phase behavior can be used to determine the distance a beam of light propagates, Gouy quantum acceleration Stage It can allow to improve the accuracy of distance measurement.
With this new understanding in hand, the researchers plan to develop new techniques to enhance their measurement capabilities so that it will be possible to measure more complex beams of structured photons. The team expects that this will help them push forward the application of the observed effect, potentially highlighting more differences between the fields of quantum and classical light.
Markus Hiekkamäki et al, Quantum Gouy Phase Observation, Nature Photonics (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41566-022-01077-w
Presented by the University of Tampere
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