Quantum interference of topological states of light

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Science Advances  14 Sep 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 9, eaat3187
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat3187


Topological insulators are materials that have a gapped bulk energy spectrum but contain protected in-gap states appearing at their surface. These states exhibit remarkable properties such as unidirectional propagation and robustness to noise that offer an opportunity to improve the performance and scalability of quantum technologies. For quantum applications, it is essential that the topological states are indistinguishable. We report high-visibility quantum interference of single-photon topological states in an integrated photonic circuit. Two topological boundary states, initially at opposite edges of a coupled waveguide array, are brought into proximity, where they interfere and undergo a beamsplitter operation. We observe Hong-Ou-Mandel interference with 93.1 ± 2.8% visibility, a hallmark nonclassical effect that is at the heart of linear optics–based quantum computation. Our work shows that it is feasible to generate and control highly indistinguishable single-photon topological states, opening pathways to enhanced photonic quantum technology with topological properties, and to study quantum effects in topological materials.

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