Research ArticlePHYSICS

Attosecond-resolution Hong-Ou-Mandel interferometry

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Science Advances  04 May 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 5, eaap9416
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aap9416


When two indistinguishable photons are each incident on separate input ports of a beamsplitter, they “bunch” deterministically, exiting via the same port as a direct consequence of their bosonic nature. This two-photon interference effect has long-held the potential for application in precision measurement of time delays, such as those induced by transparent specimens with unknown thickness profiles. However, the technique has never achieved resolutions significantly better than the few-femtosecond (micrometer) scale other than in a common-path geometry that severely limits applications. We develop the precision of Hong-Ou-Mandel interferometry toward the ultimate limits dictated by statistical estimation theory, achieving few-attosecond (or nanometer path length) scale resolutions in a dual-arm geometry, thus providing access to length scales pertinent to cell biology and monoatomic layer two-dimensional materials.

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