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On Nonlinear Amplification: Improved Quantum Limits for Photon Counting

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posted on 2023-11-30, 06:16 authored by Tzula B. Propp, S. J. van Enk
We show that detection of single photons is not subject to the fundamental limitations that accompany quantum linear amplification of bosonic mode amplitudes, even though a photodetector does amplify a few-photon input signal to a macroscopic output signal. Alternative limits are derived for \emph{nonlinear} photon-number amplification schemes with optimistic implications for single-photon detection. Four commutator-preserving transformations are presented: one idealized (which is optimal) and three more realistic (less than optimal). Our description makes clear that nonlinear amplification takes place, in general, at a different frequency $\omega'$ than the frequency $\omega$ of the input photons. This can be exploited to suppress thermal noise even further up to a fundamental limit imposed by amplification into a single bosonic mode. A practical example that fits our description very well is electron-shelving.

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