Research ArticlePHYSICS

Probing measurement-induced effects in quantum walks via recurrence

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Science Advances  29 Jun 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 6, eaar6444
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar6444

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Abstract

Measurements on a quantum particle unavoidably affect its state, since the otherwise unitary evolution of the system is interrupted by a nonunitary projection operation. To probe measurement-induced effects in the state dynamics using a quantum simulator, the challenge is to implement controlled measurements on a small subspace of the system and continue the evolution from the complementary subspace. A powerful platform for versatile quantum evolution is represented by photonic quantum walks because of their high control over all relevant parameters. However, measurement-induced dynamics in such a platform have not yet been realized. We implement controlled measurements in a discrete-time quantum walk based on time-multiplexing. This is achieved by adding a deterministic outcoupling of the optical signal to include measurements constrained to specific positions resulting in the projection of the walker’s state on the remaining ones. With this platform and coherent input light, we experimentally simulate measurement-induced single-particle quantum dynamics. We demonstrate the difference between dynamics with only a single measurement at the final step and those including measurements during the evolution. To this aim, we study recurrence as a figure of merit, that is, the return probability to the walker’s starting position, which is measured in the two cases. We track the development of the return probability over 36 time steps and observe the onset of both recurrent and transient evolution as an effect of the different measurement schemes, a signature which only emerges for quantum systems. Our simulation of the observed one-particle conditional quantum dynamics does not require a genuine quantum particle but is demonstrated with coherent light.

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