Research ArticlePHYSICS

Experimentally reducing the quantum measurement back action in work distributions by a collective measurement

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Science Advances  01 Mar 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 3, eaav4944
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav4944


In quantum thermodynamics, the standard approach to estimating work fluctuations in unitary processes is based on two projective measurements, one performed at the beginning of the process and one at the end. The first measurement destroys any initial coherence in the energy basis, thus preventing later interference effects. To decrease this back action, a scheme based on collective measurements has been proposed by Perarnau-Llobet et al. Here, we report its experimental implementation in an optical system. The experiment consists of a deterministic collective measurement on two identically prepared qubit states, encoded in the polarization and path degree of a single photon. The standard two-projective measurement approach is also experimentally realized for comparison. Our results show the potential of collective schemes to decrease the back action of projective measurements, and capture subtle effects arising from quantum coherence.

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