Selected Publications

The interaction between light and matter is one of the oldest research areas of quantum mechanics, and a field that just keeps on delivering new insights and applications. With the arrival of cavity and circuit quantum electrodynamics we can now achieve strong light-matter couplings which form the basis of most implementations of quantum technology. But quantum information processing also has high demands requiring total error rates of fractions of percentage in order to be scalable (fault-tolerant) to useful applications. Since errors can also arise from modelling, this has brought into center stage one of the key approximations of quantum theory, the Rotating Wave Approximation (RWA) of the quantum Rabi model, leading to the Jaynes-Cummings Hamiltonian. While the RWA is often very good and incredibly useful to understand light-matter interactions, there is also growing experimental evidence of regimes where it is a bad approximation. Here, we ask and answer a harder question: for which experimental parameters is the RWA, although perhaps qualitatively adequate, already not good enough to match the demands of scalable quantum technology? For example, when is the error at least, and when at most, 1%? To answer this, we develop rigorous non-perturbative bounds taming the RWA. We find that these bounds not only depend, as expected, on the ratio of the coupling strength and the oscillator frequency, but also on the average number of photons in the initial state. This confirms recent experiments on photon-dressed Bloch-Siegert shifts. We argue that with experiments reporting controllable cavity states with hundreds of photons and with quantum error correcting codes exploring more and more of Fock space, this state-dependency of the RWA is increasingly relevant for the field of quantum computation, and our results pave the way towards a better understanding of those experiments.

Quantum 8, 1262 (2024)

Energy can be transferred between two quantum systems in two forms: unitary energy—that can be used to drive another system—and correlation energy—that reflects past correlations. We propose and implement experimental protocols to access these energy transfers in interactions between a quantum emitter and light fields. Upon spontaneous emission, we measure the unitary energy transfer from the emitter to the light field and show that it never exceeds half the total energy transfer and is reduced when introducing decoherence. We then study the interference of the emitted field and a coherent laser field at a beam splitter and show that the nature of the energy transfer quantitatively depends on the quantum purity of the emitted field.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 131, 260401 (2023)

Interferometric methods have been recently investigated to achieve sub-Rayleigh imaging and precision measurements of faint incoherent sources up to the ultimate quantum limit. Here we consider single-photon imaging of two point-like emitters of unequal intensity. This is motivated by the fact that pairs of natural emitters typically have unequal brightness, for example, binary star systems and exoplanets. We address the problem of estimating the transverse separation d or the relative intensity 𝜖. Our theoretical analysis shows that the associated statistical errors are qualitatively different from the case of equal intensity. We employ multi-plane light conversion technology to implement Hermite–Gaussian (HG) spatial-mode demultiplexing (SPADE), and demonstrate sub-Rayleigh measurement of two emitters with a Gaussian point-spread function. The experimental errors are comparable with the theoretical bounds. The latter are benchmarked against direct imaging, yielding an 𝜖−1/2 improvement in the signal-to-noise ratio, which may be significant when the primary source is much brighter than the secondary one, for example, as for imaging of exoplanets.

Optica Quantum 2, 46 (2024)

This work provides a relativistic, digital quantum simulation scheme for both 2+1 and 3+1 dimensional quantum electrodynamics (QED), based on a discrete spacetime formulation of theory. It takes the form of a quantum circuit, infinitely repeating across space and time, parametrised by the discretization step Δtx. Strict causality at each step is ensured as circuit wires coincide with the lightlike worldlines of QED; simulation time under decoherence is optimized. The construction replays the logic that leads to the QED Lagrangian. Namely, it starts from the Dirac quantum walk, well-known to converge towards free relativistic fermions. It then extends the quantum walk into a multi-particle sector quantum cellular automata in a way which respects the fermionic anti-commutation relations and the discrete gauge invariance symmetry. Both requirements can only be achieved at cost of introducing the gauge field. Lastly the gauge field is given its own electromagnetic dynamics, which can be formulated as a quantum walk at each plaquette.

Quantum 7, 1179 (2023)

We discuss several aspects concerning the asymptotic dynamics of discrete-time semigroups associated with a quantum channel. By using an explicit expression of the asymptotic map, which describes the action of the quantum channel on its attractor manifold, we investigate the role of permutations in the asymptotic dynamics. We show that, in general, they make the asymptotic evolution non-unitary, and they are related to the divisibility of the quantum channel. Also, we derive several results about the asymptotics of faithful and non-faithful channels, and we establish a constructive unfolding theorem for the asymptotic dynamics.

J. Phys. A 56, 265304 (2023)

Spin-photon interfaces (SPIs) are key devices of quantum technologies, aimed at coherently transferring quantum information between spin qubits (storage qubits) and propagating pulses of polarized light (flying qubits). Following a pathway recently opened in the fields of quantum technology and quantum metrology, we explore the potential of SPIs to perform energy-efficient operations by exploiting quantum resources. The operation that we analyze is the main building block of most SPIs-based technological applications: the spin’s quantum non-demolition (QND) measurement. After being initialized and scattered by the SPI, the state of a light pulse depends on the spin state. It thus plays the role of a pointer state, information being encoded in the light's temporal and polarization degrees of freedom. Our study is grounded on a novel, fully Hamiltonian, resolution of the spin-light dynamics based on a generalization of the collision model. We explore the impact of different photonic statistics of the propagating field on the quality of the QND measurement at fixed energy. We focus on a low-energy regime where the light carries a maximum of one excitation in average and compare a coherent field with a quantum superposition of zero and single photon states. We find that the latter gives rise to a more precise spin’s QND measurement than the former hence providing an energetic quantum advantage. We show that this advantage is robust against realistic imperfections of state-of-the-art SPIs’ implementations with quantum dots.

Quantum 7, 1099 (2023)

Reconstructing the Hamiltonian of a quantum system is an essential task for characterizing and certifying quantum processors and simulators. Existing techniques either rely on projective measurements of the system before and after coherent time evolution and do not explicitly reconstruct the full time-dependent Hamiltonian or interrupt evolution for tomography. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that an a priori unknown, time-dependent Hamiltonian can be reconstructed from continuous weak measurements concurrent with coherent time evolution in a system of two superconducting transmons coupled by a flux-tunable coupler. In contrast to previous work, our technique does not require interruptions, which would distort the recovered Hamiltonian. We introduce an algorithm, which recovers the Hamiltonian and density matrix from an incomplete set of continuous measurements, and demonstrate that it reliably extracts amplitudes of a variety of single-qubit and entangling two-qubit Hamiltonians. We further demonstrate how this technique reveals deviations from a theoretical control Hamiltonian, which would otherwise be missed by conventional techniques. Our work opens up novel applications for continuous weak measurements, such as studying nonidealities in gates, certifying analog quantum simulators, and performing quantum metrology.

PRX Quantum 4, 040324 (2023)

We investigate the properties of the cooperative decay modes of a cold atomic cloud, characterized by a Gaussian distribution in three dimensions, initially excited by a laser in the linear regime. We study the properties of the decay rate matrix S, whose dimension coincides with the number of atoms in the cloud, in order to get a deeper insight into properties of cooperative photon emission. Since the atomic positions are random, S is a Euclidean random matrix whose entries are a function of the atom distances. We show that in the limit of a large number of atoms in the cloud, the eigenvalue distribution of S depends on a single parameter b0, called the cooperativeness parameter, which can be viewed as a quantifier of the number of atoms that are coherently involved in an emission process. For very small values of b0, we find that the limit eigenvalue density is approximately triangular. We also study the nearest-neighbor spacing distribution and the eigenvector statistics, finding that although the decay rate matrices are Euclidean, the bulk of their spectra mostly behaves according to the expectations of classical random matrix theory. In particular, in the bulk, there is level repulsion and the eigenvectors are delocalized, therefore exhibiting the universal behavior of chaotic quantum systems.

Phys. Rev. A 108, 063701 (2023)

Computational complexity reduction is at the basis of a new formulation of many-body quantum states according to tensor network ansatz, originally framed in one-dimensional lattices. In order to include long-range entanglement characterizing phase transitions, the multiscale entanglement renormalization ansatz (MERA) defines a sequence of coarse-grained lattices, obtained by targeting the map of a scale-invariant system into an identical coarse-grained one. The quantum circuit associated with this hierarchical structure includes the definition of causal relations and unitary extensions, leading to the definition of ground subspaces as stabilizer codes. The emerging error correcting codes are referred to logical indices located at the highest hierarchical level and to physical indices yielded by redundancy, framed in the AdS-CFT correspondence as holographic quantum codes with bulk and boundary indices, respectively. In a use-case scenario based on errors consisting of spin erasure, the correction is implemented as the reconstruction of a bulk local operator.

Dynamics 3, 622 (2023)

We formulate a self-consistent model of the integer quantum Hall effect on an infinite strip, using boundary conditions to investigate the influence of finite-size effects on the Hall conductivity. By exploiting the translation symmetry along the strip, we determine both the general spectral properties of the system for a large class of boundary conditions respecting such symmetry, and the full spectrum for (fibered) Robin boundary conditions. In particular, we find that the latter introduce a new kind of states with no classical analogues, and add a finer structure to the quantization pattern of the Hall conductivity. Moreover, our model also predicts the breakdown of the quantum Hall effect at high values of the applied electric field.

J. Phys. A: Math. Theor. 56, 025301 (2023)

The quantum dynamics of time-dependent systems is extraordinarily complex even for the simplest examples. Approximations are therefore the key to understanding this rich dynamics, with applications ranging across all areas of quantum physics, and important consequences for quantum information processing and control. However, such approximations are often ad hoc or do not provide a good handle to bound the error made in simplifying the dynamics. Here, we describe a simple tool which we use to bound a surprisingly wide range of time-dependent phenomena, ranging from the famous Adiabatic Theorems, via the commonly used Rotating-Wave Approximation and the Trotter Product Formulas with importance in quantum simulation, to the conceptually puzzling Zeno Paradox. One bound to bring them all, and in mathematics bind them. 

Quantum 6, 737 (2022)

Uncertainty relations express limits on the extent to which the outcomes of distinct measurements on a single state can be made jointly predictable. The existence of nontrivial uncertainty relations in quantum theory is generally considered to be a way in which it entails a departure from the classical worldview. However, this perspective is undermined by the fact that there exist operational theories which exhibit nontrivial uncertainty relations but which are consistent with the classical worldview insofar as they admit of a generalized-noncontextual ontological model. This prompts the question of what aspects of uncertainty relations, if any, cannot be realized in this way and so constitute evidence of genuine nonclassicality. We here consider uncertainty relations describing the tradeoff between the predictability of a pair of binary-outcome measurements (e.g., measurements of Pauli X and Pauli Z observables in quantum theory). We show that, for a class of theories satisfying a particular symmetry property, the functional form of this predictability tradeoff is constrained by noncontextuality to be below a linear curve. Because qubit quantum theory has the relevant symmetry property, the fact that its predictability tradeoff describes a section of a circle is a violation of this noncontextual bound, and therefore constitutes an example of how the functional form of an uncertainty relation can witness contextuality. We also deduce the implications for a selected group of operational foils to quantum theory and consider the generalization to three measurements.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 129, 240401 (2022)

Continuous-variable quantum key distribution exploits coherent measurements of the electromagnetic field, i.e., homodyne or heterodyne detection. The most advanced security proofs developed so far have relied on idealized mathematical models for such measurements, which assume that the measurement outcomes are continuous and unbounded variables. As physical-measurement devices have a finite range and precision, these mathematical models only serve as an approximation. It is expected that, under suitable conditions, the predictions obtained using these simplified models will be in good agreement with the actual experimental implementations. However, a quantitative analysis of the error introduced by this approximation, and of its impact on composable security, have been lacking so far. Here, we present a theory to rigorously account for the experimental limitations of realistic heterodyne detection. We focus on collective attacks and present security proofs for the asymptotic and finite-size regimes, the latter being within the framework of composable security. In doing this, we establish for the first time the composable security of discrete-modulation continuous-variable quantum key distribution in the finite-size regime. Tight bounds on the key rates are obtained through semidefinite programming and do not rely on a truncation of the Hilbert space.

PRX Quantum 3, 010341 (2022)

We explore the features of an equally-spaced array of two-level quantum emitters, that can be either natural atoms (or molecules) or artificial atoms, coupled to a field with a single continuous degree of freedom (such as an electromagnetic mode propagating in a waveguide). We investigate the existence and characteristics of bound states, in which a single excitation is shared among the emitters and the field. We focus on bound states in the continuum, occurring in correspondence of excitation energies in which a single excited emitter would decay. We characterize such bound states for an arbitrary number of emitters, and obtain two main results, both ascribable to the presence of evanescent fields. First, the excitation profile of the emitter states is a sinusoidal wave. Second, we discuss the emergence of multimers, consisting in subsets of emitters separated by two lattice spacings in which the electromagnetic field is approximately vanishing.

New J. Phys. 23, 103033 (2021)

Detecting the faint emission of a secondary source in the proximity of the much brighter one has been the most severe obstacle for using direct imaging in searching for exoplanets. Using quantum state discrimination and quantum imaging techniques, we show that one can significantly reduce the probability of error for detecting the presence of a weak secondary source, especially when the two sources have small angular separations. If the weak source has intensity ε≪1 relative to the bright source, we find that the error exponent can be improved by a factor of 1/ε. We also find linear-optical measurements that are optimal in this regime. Our result serves as a complementary method in the toolbox of optical imaging, with applications ranging from astronomy to microscopy.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 127, 130502 (2021)