Optimal imaging of remote bodies using quantum detectors

L.A. Howard, G.G. Gillett, M.E. Pearce, R.A. Abrahao, P. Kok, and A.G. White

Physical Review Letters 123, 143604 (2019)

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We implement a general imaging method by measuring the complex degree of coherence using linear optics and photon number resolving detectors. In the absence of collective or entanglement-assisted measurements, our method is optimal over a large range of practically relevant values of the complex degree of coherence. We measure the size and position of a small distant source of pseudo-thermal light, and show that our method outperforms the traditional imaging method by an order of magnitude in precision. Additionally, we show that a lack of photon number resolution in the detectors has only a modest detrimental effect on measurement precision, further highlighting the practicality of this method as a way to gain significant imaging improvements in a wide range of imaging applications.

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