Quantum random walks in waveguide lattices

Keil, Robert GND

Random processes are ubiquitous in the natural world as well as in man-made environments. While classical random walks may behave highly complex or even chaotic, there outcome can, in principle, always be predicted from the parameters of the system and the initial conditions. In the realm of quantum mechanics, however, this is not possible as the underlying wave mechanics leads to intrinsically indeterministic outcomes. Moreover, if multiple indistinguishable particles are subjected to such a quantum random walk, their exchange symmetry causes quantum interference, thereby enriching the dynamics of the system even further. In this work, quantum random walks of pairs of indistinguishable photons, the quanta of light, are investigated. Networks of coupled optical waveguides are chosen as the experimental platform of choice, offering a high degree of coherence and versatility. In these photonic lattices, light propagates along one spatial dimension, whereas the individual waveguides are connected by evanescent coupling in the transverse dimensions. In particular, it is investigated how the various degrees of freedom, which are available in such photonic lattices, affect the trajectories in the quantum walks and their complexity. It is shown how the facilitation of both transverse dimensions allows for much richer quantum walks with properties unencountered in planar arrangements. But even if just a single transverse dimension is available, the coupling properties of the lattice along this dimension are a potent degree of freedom, which can be used to manipulate the quantum walk. Finally, an experimental technique is developed which enables a convenient characterisation of the expected quantum walk in an arbitrary waveguide lattice by classical light. The thesis concludes with a summary of the results and an outlook onto further developments in the field.

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Keil, Robert: Quantum random walks in waveguide lattices. 2014.

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