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Journal Article

Quantum Dynamics of a Few-Photon Parametric Oscillator

Modulating the frequency of a harmonic oscillator at nearly twice its natural frequency leads to amplification and self-oscillation. Above the oscillation threshold and in the presence of a nonlinearity, the field settles into a coherent oscillating state with a well-defined phase of either 0 or pi. We demonstrate a quantum parametric oscillator operating at microwave frequencies and drive it into oscillating states containing only a few photons. The small number of photons present in the system and the coherent nature of the nonlinearity prevent the environment from learning the randomly chosen phase of the oscillator. This result allows the system to oscillate briefly in a quantum superposition of both phases at once, effectively generating a nonclassical Schrodinger's cat state. We characterize the dynamics and states of the system by analyzing the output field emitted by the oscillator and implementing quantum state tomography suited for nonlinear resonators. By demonstrating a quantum parametric oscillator and the requisite techniques for characterizing its quantum state, we set the groundwork for new schemes of quantum and classical information processing and extend the reach of these ubiquitous devices deep into the quantum regime.
Zhaoyou Wang
Marek Pechal
E. Alex Wollack
Patricio Arrangoiz-Arriola
Maodong Gao
Nathan R. Lee
Amir H. Safavi-Naeini
Journal Name
Phys. Rev. X
Publication Date
June 7, 2019