Quantum limit to incoherent imaging is achieved by linear interferometry
Submitted to Physical Review Letters , (2019)
We solve the general problem of determining, through imaging, the three-dimensional positions of N weak incoherent point-like emitters in an arbitrary spatial configuration. We show that a structured measurement strategy in which a linear interferometer feeds into an array of photo-detectors is always optimal for this estimation problem, in the sense that it saturates the quantum Cramér-Rao bound. We provide a method for the explicit construction of the optimal interferometer. Further explicit results for the quantum Fisher information and the optimal interferometer design that attains it are obtained for the case of one and two incoherent emitters in the paraxial regime. This work provides insights into the phenomenon of super-resolution through incoherent imaging that has attracted much attention recently. Our results will find a wide range of applications over a broad spectrum of frequencies, from fluorescence microscopy to stellar interferometry.