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A probabilistic view of wave-particle duality for single photons

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posted on 2023-03-29, 16:01 authored by Andrea Aiello
One of the most puzzling consequences of interpreting quantum mechanics in terms of concepts borrowed from classical physics, is the so-called wave-particle duality. Usually, wave-particle duality is illustrated in terms of complementarity between path distinguishability and fringe visibility in interference experiments. In this work, we instead propose a new type of complementarity, that between the continuous nature of waves and the discrete character of particles. Using the probabilistic methods of quantum field theory, we show that the simultaneous measurement of the wave amplitude and the number of photons in the same beam of light is, under certain circumstances, prohibited by the laws of quantum mechanics. Our results suggest that the concept of ``interferometric duality'' could be eventually replaced by the more general one of ``continuous-vs-discrete duality''.



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