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Ultra-long photonic quantum walks via spin-orbit metasurfaces

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posted on 2023-01-12, 15:22 authored by Francesco Di Colandrea, Amin Babazadeh, Alexandre Dauphin, Pietro Massignan, Lorenzo Marrucci, Filippo Cardano
The possibility of fine-tuning the couplings between optical modes is a key requirement in programmable photonic simulators and quantum computers. Engineering particle evolutions across large lattices is a challenging task, which requires sophisticated setups that are often intrinsically lossy. Here we report ultra-long photonic quantum walks across several hundred optical modes, obtained by propagating a light beam through very few closely-stacked liquid-crystal metasurfaces, without any optical amplification. By exploiting spin-orbit effects, these metasurfaces realize a space-dependent polarization transformation which mixes circularly polarized optical modes carrying quantized transverse momentum. With this setup we engineer quantum walks up to 320 discrete steps, far beyond state-of-the-art experiments. To showcase the potential of this method, we experimentally demonstrate that in the long-time limit a quantum walk affected by dynamical disorder generates maximal entanglement between two system partitions. Our platform grants experimental access to ultra-long unitary evolutions while keeping optical losses constant, thereby paving the way to massive multi-photon multi-mode quantum simulations.

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