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Introducing Quantum Physics with Polarization

1.1 1.1.1

Polarization of a Light Beam Deﬁnition and basic measurement

Light consists of electric and magnetic ﬁelds that can oscillate in any direction perpendicular to the direction of propagation. The polarization describes the direction of the electric ﬁeld’s oscillation. To measure this, we can use a polarizer, which is a material with a preferential axis due to its molecular or crystalline structure. This preferential axis allows the polarizer to act as a ﬁlter, transmitting only light polarized in certain directions. We can liken polarized light being transmitted through a polarizer to metal bars with diﬀerent orientations passing through a narrow door, which only allows vertically-oriented metal bars to pass through. Similarly, only light with certain polarization can be transmitted through a polarizer. This analogy has limitations however, because only metal bars that are parallel to the door can pass through it, while those that are tilted from the vertical cannot. In comparison, polarization can be described as vectors, and even if the electric ﬁeld is oriented at an angle to the polarizer’s axis, the component parallel to the axis can still be transmitted, while the perpendicular component is reﬂected or dissipated as heat. Imagine a polarizer with its axis oriented in the vertical direction. You send light through it, with an intensity I and polarization at an angle α to the vertical. Let the transmitted component be IT , and the reﬂected component be IR . IT is oriented parallel to the vertical axis of the polarizer, whereas IR is horizontal, perpendicular to the axis. As intensity is a measure of energy, the law of conservation of energy give us the relation I = IT + IR .

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SIX QUANTUM PIECES - A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. http://www.worldscibooks.com/physics/7965.html

(1.1)

4

Six Quantum Pieces

Next, imagine doubling the intensity I of the light that enters the polarizer. Since the initial intensity I is arbitrary, if it is doubled, the ratio of the transmitted and reﬂected intensities should still be the same. Hence IT and IR are also doubled. By intuition, the new relation should then be 2I = 2IT + 2IR . (1.2) We observe that IT ∝ I , and similarly IR ∝ I . Thus we obtain the relations IT = k1 I , (1.3) IR = k2 I , where k1 , k2 are constants. Substituting Equation (1.3) into Equation (1.1), we can deduce that k1 + k2 = 1 . (1.4) Two positive numbers such that k1 + k2 = 1 can always be written as k1 = cos2 α and k2 = sin2 α, so ﬁnally IT = I cos2 α , (1.5) IR = I sin2 α . This result is also known as Malus’ Law in classical electromagnetic theory.

1.1.2

Series of polarizers

Let us consider a series of two polarizers, both with horizontal polarization axes (Figure 1.1). If the intensity transmitted by the ﬁrst is IT 1 , what is the intensity IT 2 transmitted by the second? The answer is, of course, IT 2 = IT 1 , assuming that there is no energy loss when the light passes through the second polarizer.

I T1 I R1

Fig. 1.1

I T2

Two polarizers with same polarization axes.

However, what happens if the second polarizer is tilted such that its polarization axis is now vertical (Figure 1.2)? The intensity IT 2 now becomes zero.

SIX QUANTUM PIECES - A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. http://www.worldscibooks.com/physics/7965.html

worldscibooks. 1. Now consider a case where we have the second and third polarizers oriented at angles α and β respectively from the ﬁrst.2 I R2 Two polarizers with perpendicular polarization axes.html . some light would pass through: the intensity actually increases! For example. The fact that this phenomenon has a surprising character when ﬁrst encountered shows that our intuition sometimes fails. What happens next if a third polarizer is inserted between the two (Figure 1.5). if the middle polarizer has an axis oriented π 4 from the horizontal. with respect to the Hence polarizers are not merely ﬁlters that block a certain amount of light.3 Three polarizers each with polarization axis oriented previous. because more light would be ﬁltered out.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co.3)? We expect that the intensity transmitted can decrease or remain the same if we add more polarizers. How does the intensity transmitted by the third polarizer depend on α and β ? From Equation (1. we know that the second polarizer will transmit a fraction cos2 α of the intensity IT 1 transmitted by the ﬁrst. and it can easily be checked in a laboratory. and we have to rely on observations and conﬁrmed laws. thus there should never be an increase. 1 IT 1 . Pte. and the intensity transmitted the intensity transmitted by it would be 2 by the third polarizer would be half that from the second.com/physics/7965. The curious thing is that.Introducing Quantum Physics with Polarization 5 I T1 I R1 Fig. Since the third polarizer is SIX QUANTUM PIECES . that is. http://www. Ltd. I T1 I R1 I R2 I T2 I R3 π 4 I T3 Fig. 1 4 IT 1 . if this middle polarizer is oriented at a diﬀerent angle from the other two. This is a prediction of the laws and equations derived earlier. 1.

Let us label the unit vectors along the vertical and horizontal directions as eV and eH respectively.1. Pte. The ﬁrst polarizer is oriented at an angle = 2π N to the horizontal. and that the absolute orientation of the polarizer does not matter. A beam of horizontally-polarized light of intensity I impinges on a setup consisting of N polarizers. Here.6) 1 Note that for simplicity we shall restrict our discussion to linear polarization throughout the main text. it is customary to identify two orthogonal polarization directions as “horizontal” (H ) and “vertical” (V ). V will be the direction of polarization that is fully reﬂected by a polarizer that fully transmits H . which is exactly vertical.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. as well-known. a direction can be described by a vector. where N is very large. 1. it would transmit a fraction cos2 (β − α) of IT 2 . Therefore. its polarization is1 eα = cos α eH + sin α eV (1. SIX QUANTUM PIECES . one can describe any possible polarization direction: if the electric ﬁeld is oscillating in a direction that makes an angle α with H .1.6 Six Quantum Pieces oriented at β − α from the second. Ltd. What is the intensity of light at the output of the last polarizer? What is its polarization? Note: neglect multiple reﬂections of the reﬂected beams and study only the transmitted beam. Note that polarization is deﬁned by the line along which the electric ﬁeld oscillates. the important point to note is that the intensities depend only on the diﬀerence between the angles. then. −eH describes the same polarization as eH . Any direction can be chosen for H.html . circular and elliptic polarization can be treated in a similar way by allowing complex numbers. when studying polarization.worldscibooks. z ˆ) that will serve as coordinates. With this basis of two vectors. Similarly. the next one is at an angle from the previous.3 Polarization in vector notation In mechanics. Exercise 1. y ˆ. not by the direction along which the ﬁeld points at a given time. the choice of such directions is completely arbitrary. and so on until the ﬁnal one. it is very convenient to introduce a set of axes (ˆ x. As usual.com/physics/7965. and similarly for eV . http://www.

i. Pte. Like the polarizer. This makes it easy to monitor both beams. SIX QUANTUM PIECES . 1. here the reﬂected beam is not back-propagating or absorbed.worldscibooks. 2 (1.html . applies to all polarization vectors: −eα describes the same polarization as eα . Polarizing beam-splitter: scheme and implementation of a general measure- Note that one cannot rotate the device itself to measure along an angle α. For what follows. using a polarizer.e.com/physics/7965.1. http://www. H V Fig. In order to measure polarization along any arbitrary axis. Note however that relative signs do matter: eα = cos α eH + sin α eV describes a diﬀerent polarization as cos α eH − sin α eV ≡ e−α . polarizing beam-splitters must be complemented with polarization rotators. that can be chosen in order to perform the rotation eα −→ eH . Ltd.4). the one that is fully reﬂected by a polarizer that fully transmits eα . is eα + π ≡ eα⊥ = − sin α eH + cos α eV . These are basically slabs of suitable materials. it is deﬂected in a diﬀerent direction.4 ment. eα⊥ −→ eV . namely the polarizing beam-splitter (Figure 1. it will be rather convenient to keep in mind another device that measures polarization. horizontal polarization is transmitted and vertical polarization is reﬂected. of course.4 Polarizing beam-splitters as measurement devices We presented below the basic measurement of polarization. 1. However.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. as is the case with polarizers: rather. this device splits light into two beams according to its polarization: for instance.Introducing Quantum Physics with Polarization 7 The polarization orthogonal to eα .7) The remark we made on the previous page about the sign.

1. as the following exercise shows. this is not possible. one inserts the suitable rotator. If the output light is transmitted.1 Reconstructing polarization: tomography We conclude this section with an important remark on measurement. Such a measurement. from which the polarization direction can be fully reconstructed. α Fig. In particular. On each of the beams. Ltd. the measurements that we described are optimal. SIX QUANTUM PIECES . a much more reﬁned measurement of polarization can be made: one just has to ﬁrst split the beam into several beams without aﬀecting the polarization. One might ask if there exist measurements that would give more detailed information: for instance. On a single beam of light. is called tomography. then it was polarized along eV after the rotator. then it was polarized along eH after the rotator. However.html . If on the contrary the output light is reﬂected. which means that it was polarized along eα at the input. polarization can be measured along a diﬀerent direction. three measurements would be needed. Pte. one that would discriminate perfectly between three or more possible polarization directions. This can be done with half-transparent mirrors.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co.worldscibooks.com/physics/7965. two measurements are suﬃcient to completely determine a linear polarization2 .1. if the beam of light is intense.4. http://www. 2 If the polarization is not guaranteed to be linear.8 Six Quantum Pieces The measurement setup is now easy to understand: before the polarizing beam-splitter.5 Tomography of linear polarization. which means that it was polarized along eα⊥ at the input. if the total intensity is known. 1. We have described measurement schemes that only allow one polarization to be distinguished from the orthogonal one.

SIX QUANTUM PIECES . for a beam of polarization cos α eH + sin α eV .2 1. if a polarizer is suitably oriented. to explain the photoelectric eﬀect. if the beam of light consists of the smallest unit.worldscibooks. Hint: suppose that the polarization is eθ : what are Iα and Iα⊥ .html . This notation is called the Dirac notation. and we shall carefully study it now as we will be using it throughout the rest of the text. this is indeed the case.6). Namely.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co.Introducing Quantum Physics with Polarization 9 Exercise 1. when dealing with a single photon. http://www. The development of quantum physics clariﬁed the notion of the photon. Show that these two alternatives can be discriminated by measuring the polarization of the other beam in any other direction. In classical physics. A beam of intensity 2I is split into two beams of intensity I each.1 Polarization of One Photon Describing one photon During the development of modern physics. In a polarized beam. On one of these beams. (1. one can infer that the polarization is either eθ = cos θ eH + sin θ eV or e−θ = cos θ eH − sin θ eV . Einstein postulated that light is actually comprised of particles called photons. with eα . called a “photon”? This question marks the transition to quantum physics. the whole beam can be transmitted. From these measurements. IV = I sin2 θ.com/physics/7965. the state of polarization of each photon is written as |α = cos α|H + sin α|V . 1. it seems that one can always learn the polarization direction perfectly. Ltd. Now. that is each photon is transmitted.2. Using tomography. For the sake of this text. Pte. eα⊥ deﬁned as in Equations (1. a diﬀerent notation is used than when dealing with the whole beam. instead of the classical wave theory. each photon must have the same polarization. Indeed.7)? Compare these with the results obtained if the polarization is e−θ . polarization is measured in the horizontal-vertical direction: the results are IH = I cos2 θ. But the tomography process assumes that a light beam can always be split: what happens then.2. we can assume that light is “made” of photons.

2 Computations using Dirac notation As mathematical objects. From what we have discussed earlier.13) SIX QUANTUM PIECES . The rule is valid for two arbitrary polarization states |ψ1 and |ψ2 : P (ﬁnding ψ1 given ψ2 ) = | ψ1 |ψ2 |2 . Ltd. cos2 α represents the probability that the photon is transmitted.html . {|H .10) that is. α|V = sin α . Given this. (1.8) . |V } is a basis. V |V = 1 . it can either be transmitted or reﬂected. given an initial polarization angle α. Similarly. by construction H |H = 1 . P (ﬁnding V given α) = P (V |α) = sin2 α = | V |α |2 . In particular. H |V = 0 . “|.11) (1. Thus we can state that the probability of a photon passing through horizontal and vertical polarizers. But what does such a quantity mean at the level of single photons? A photon is an indivisible particle: when arriving at the ﬁlter. Pte. (1. the scalar product of |α and |H . In particular. This last equation is called Born’s rule for probabilities. as in normal vector algebra. (1.com/physics/7965. we know that for a beam the quantity cos2 α represents the fraction of the beam intensity that is transmitted by a ﬁlter. ” are vectors with very similar properties as the e used for the ﬁeld. We write this scalar product as α|H = cos α .9) 1 0 0 1 . http://www. Indeed these two numbers sum up to 1 as they should for probabilities.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. (1. is P (ﬁnding H given α) = P (H |α) = cos2 α = | H |α |2 .2.10 Six Quantum Pieces 1. let us write |H ≡ |V ≡ Then |α = cos α|H + sin α|V ≡ cos α sin α .worldscibooks. The coeﬃcient cos α is.12) (1.

and P (T ) = cos2 (α − β ) . Before that. In general. (1. As discussed earlier. the parameter for determining the probability of transmission is α − β .html .worldscibooks.3 The meaning of probabilities Let us discuss in greater detail the meaning of probabilities in measurements on single photons.15) 1. P (R) = sin2 α . and not on their individual values. P (R) = sin2 (α − β ) . Let us ﬁrst predict the results of this experiment.3. moving towards a polarizer oriented in the horizontal direction.16) SIX QUANTUM PIECES .Introducing Quantum Physics with Polarization 11 It is important here to note that |α = cos α|H + sin α|V does not mean that some photons are polarized as |H and some as |V . Consider a few photons with polarization |α = cos α|H + sin α|V .14) (2) Let |β = cos β |H +sin β |V .A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. we can determine the transmitted and reﬂected intensities to be P (T ) = cos2 α . they have probabilities cos2 α and sin2 α of being transmitted. (1) Prove that {|α . Compute the probabilities P (α|β ) and P (α⊥ |β ). Rather. Pte.2. we propose two exercises. (1. |α⊥ } is a basis for all α. to consolidate our understanding. when light polarized at an angle α to the horizontal passes through a polarizer with an axis oriented β to the horizontal. The appearance of the notion of probability in physics requires a careful discussion. where |α |α ⊥ = cos α|H + sin α|V . (1. = sin α|H − cos α|V . Exercise 1. http://www.com/physics/7965. but when they are measured in the H/V basis. the probabilities depend only on the diﬀerence between the angles α and β . Ltd. Based on the earlier analysis. it describes a new polarization state whereby all the photons are polarized as |α .

we can predict the statistical probability of the behaviour of a large number of photons. what will happen to it? Will it pass through or will it be reﬂected? What about the next photon? The answer is: we do not know. Although we know the statistical behaviour of many photons. let us consider each individual photon. no. SIX QUANTUM PIECES . we can compare this situation to some wellknown instances of randomness in our daily lives. since the relevant information is actually present. When one photon encounters the polarizer. The randomness is intrinsic. however. It has been experimentally proven that there is no such mechanism. it may be hard or even impossible in practice to predict the results.12 Six Quantum Pieces A mI g o i n gt o g ot h r o u g h ? Fig.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co.html . Pte. casting a die or weather patterns.6 Dilemma of a photon. we then ask. Unsatisﬁed with not knowing the answer. this is not intrinsic randomness. why can’t this be predicted? Does this mean that nature is random ? Does God play dice? It may be surprising. or a beam of light. we have no way of predicting the behaviour of each individual photon. could it be that there is some hidden mechanism within each photon that would determine whether or not it would pass through? The answer is.worldscibooks.com/physics/7965. again. Now. To make this point clearer. Each photon is polarized along |α and is identical to each other. 1. but the answer is yes. In fact. Ltd. http://www. such as tossing a coin. we cannot predict the behaviour of each individual photon because the information is really not even there in the ﬁrst place! Our next question is. In these cases. In other words.

For example. vE .3 Describing Two Photons Previously. the physical properties of the Earth can be reduced to its position and speed (xE . |V = 0 1 . |H ⊗ |V . vE ). this is not always the case: the properties of each subsystem may not be well-deﬁned. We can measure the speed. polarization or any other parameters of a photon. xM . similarly for the Moon. Pte. However. This may seem obvious.17) SIX QUANTUM PIECES .2 Four states of two photons Consider now a composite system of two photons.3. the evolution of each parameter depends on the values of all the others. and |V ⊗ |H respectively. but there is no way to tell whether or not it will pass through the polarizer. vM ). These situations are written as |H ⊗ |H . 1. Both photons could be horizontally polarized. in time.com/physics/7965.3. 1. http://www. The fact that the Earth and Moon interact means that. at any moment. |V ⊗ |V .1 Classical composite systems In order to appreciate what follows. we consider ﬁrst composite systems in classical physics. two photons can exhibit purely quantum properties with no classical analogues. (1.html . This is what is meant by intrinsic randomness. we were able to relate the statistical result of their intrinsically random behavior to the intensity of a light beam transmitted through a polarizer. or both vertically. or the ﬁrst one horizontally and the second vertically.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co.worldscibooks. But in quantum physics. The symbol ⊗ is a multiplication between vectors known as the tensor product deﬁned as follows: let |H = 1 0 . the Earth and Moon. Neglecting its size. the Earth has a well-deﬁned position and speed. in the case of a single photon. A physical system is composite if it can be seen as consisting of two or more subsystems. Ltd. similarly for the Moon (xM . vM ). and indeed it is in classical physics. or the opposite. 1. However.Introducing Quantum Physics with Polarization 13 The randomness in quantum phenomena is very diﬀerent. Then the properties of the composite system can be derived from the set of vectors (xE . The information is really not there.

Pte. Ltd.18) 0 and by using the same technique. we shall write |H ⊗ |H as |H. H or |HH .html . (1.20) To keep the interpretation of |a| . This is obvious if you recall the physical meaning of this notation: “the ﬁrst photon is H and the second is V ” is deﬁnitely not the same as “the ﬁrst photon is V and the second is H ”. any choice of {a. we also impose the normalization condition |a|2 + |b|2 + |c|2 + |d|2 = 1. i. and any α deﬁnes a valid state. For simplicity.22) 2 SIX QUANTUM PIECES . |b| . 0 (1. Let us now study some examples. |V ⊗ |V = 0 .19) 1 0 0 Take note that this multiplication is not commutative. Conversely. we saw that the general expression for the linear polarization state of a single photon is |α = cos α|H + sin α|V .21) where c = cos α and s = sin α. c.3 All the states of two photons Previously. Apart from this. |c| and |d| as probabilities. http://www. the tensor product has all the usual properties of multiplication. |V ⊗ |H = 1 . d} satisfying the normalization condition represents a valid state.worldscibooks. Intuitively. (1. 1. the most general state takes the form |ψ = a|HH + b|HV + c|V H + d|V V . 0 0 0 0 0 1 |H ⊗ |V = 0 .14 Six Quantum Pieces then |H ⊗ | H = 1 0 ⊗ 1 0 1 = 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 = .com/physics/7965. (1. b.e |H ⊗ |V = |V ⊗|H . We start with c|HH + s|HV = |H (c|H + s|V ) . 2 2 2 2 (1. Similarly. This state represents the situation in which the ﬁrst photon has a polarization of |H while the second photon has a polarization of |α = c|H + s|V . 1 Let us take a look at another state: √ (|HH + |V V ).3. this 2 should also correspond to each photon having a well-deﬁned polarization: 1 ? √ (|HH + |V V ) = (cα |H + sα |V ) ⊗ (cβ |H + sβ |V ) .A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. a convention that we will be using throughout this book. in the case of two photons.

i.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. 1. √ (|HH + |V V ) still describes a valid physical state. 2 √ 1 3 = |HH + (|V H + |V V ) .com/physics/7965.worldscibooks. It turns out that the conditions for composite states to be written as the product of two separate states are very constraining.4 The meaning of entanglement What does entanglement mean? Let us stress explicitly that we are studying states. an entangled state describes a situation in which.3. there is no way to write this state as the product of two independent states.e. Expanding the product. Verify that all the states are correctly normalized. as we 2 have mentioned earlier. Thus most composite states are entangled. Hence.4. one for each subsystem. The Earth and the Moon mentioned earlier inﬂuence the motion of each other. and that vectors chosen at random are not likely to satisfy this. http://www. 2 2 = cos θ|HH + sin θ|V V . Consider the following two-photon states: |ψ1 = |ψ2 |ψ3 |ψ4 1 (|HH + |HV + |V H + |V V ) . Exercise 1. we get 1 1 ? √ |HH + √ |V V = cα cβ |HH + cα sβ |HV 2 2 + sα cβ |V H + sα sβ |V V . but cα sβ = To satisfy this equality. Ltd. at a given time and without any mention SIX QUANTUM PIECES . We have to admit that there are some states for which it is not possible to describe the two photons separately. 1 However. the description of the system.23) 1 . Which ones are entangled? Write those that are not entangled as an explicit product of single-photon states.html . (1.Introducing Quantum Physics with Polarization 15 where cα = cos α etc. Such states are called entangled. Pte. On the contrary. 2 1 = (|HH + |HV + |V H − |V V ) . not its dynamics. we must have cα cβ = sα sβ = √ 2 sα cβ = 0: the two conditions are manifestly contradictory. but we stressed (it seemed obvious) that at each time one can assign a state to the Earth and a state to the Moon.

This may be counter-intuitive. Recall that for entangled photons. two photons cannot be described separately.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. we have to stress that the measurement process discussed thus far is an optimal one. this correlation is not caused by each photon having the same welldeﬁned state.4 Transformations of States We have discussed how to measure states and predict the results of the measurements. and the properties that such transformations obey. if not impossible. their properties are correlated such that their relative states are well-deﬁned. there is no way in which two states can be distinguished better than by measuring them using polarizers or polarizing beam splitters.24) 2 2 What happens if both photons are measured in the same basis? Notice that the polarization of the two photons are always the same. if one is measured to be |H . Consider |α and |α⊥ as deﬁned in Equation (1. Born’s rule of proba- SIX QUANTUM PIECES . physicists have performed tests on entangled photons and observed their properties. How should we understand this? It is very hard. Using the same example. Ltd. for example. Thus we see the presence of correlations in the properties of entangled photons. We say that their polarization are perfectly correlated. the other must deﬁnitely be |H as well.com/physics/7965. thus both always have the same polarization. However. First. http://www.5.html . Some of these tests would be described in detail in the following chapters. the other is also |H . each photon cannot be described separately.14). (1.16 Six Quantum Pieces of evolution. In other words. 1.worldscibooks. to give an intuitive meaning to entanglement since it is not observed in everyday life. this means that although we cannot say that either photon is |H . Check that 1 1 √ |α |α + |α⊥ |α⊥ = √ |H |H + |V |V . but even though both photons do not have well-deﬁned properties. Pte. This is important because otherwise. Another important concept is the transformation of states. for all measurements. However. We conclude with an intriguing exercise: Exercise 1. one photon is |H .

before performing the measurement.com/physics/7965.Introducing Quantum Physics with Polarization 17 bilities would not be accurate as there are more optimal measurements that will produce diﬀerent probabilities. |ψ2 }. |θ can also be transformed to |φ . Pte. indicating that χ is a measure of the “distinguishability” of the two states in an optimal measurement.html . for all pairs of vectors {|ψ1 . all transformations must be linear and have the property of unitarity : • A transformation T is linear if. here we sketch the reason behind the necessity of preserving the scalar product. According to Born’s rule.25) • A transformation U is unitary if it preserves the scalar product of any two vectors: φ1 |φ2 = U (φ1 )|U (φ2 ) . by measuring the transmitted and reﬂected light intensities. let us analyze what would happen if χ is not preserved. (1. Polarizers or polarizing beam-splitters are used to determine the polarization. and are the same if χ = 1. we could apply the transformation. Secondly. A theorem due to Wigner proves that in quantum physics. For single photons.26) The proof of linearity is the most diﬃcult part of Wigner’s theorem. this means that the states become more distinguishable. T (|ψ1 + |ψ2 ) = T (|ψ1 ) + T (|ψ2 ) . and is written using vectors. An example of this is the rotation of a vector: it can be reversed by a rotation in the opposite direction. (1. Ltd. Now. It turns out that all reversible transformations on a polarization vector are indeed related to rotations. two states are perfectly distinguishable if the scalar product χ = 0. 1. If instead χ increases. their polarization states are SIX QUANTUM PIECES . Indeed. the assumption of reversibility implies that there exists a reversed transformation in which χ decreases. This means that if a state |φ can be transformed to |θ .worldscibooks. http://www.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. which contradicts the assumption that the measurement is optimal. Thus the only remaining option is that χ does not change during a reversible evolution. If we suppose that there is a transformation such that χ decreases. it is an assumption of modern physics that transformations between macroscopic states are reversible.5 Summary The polarization of light describes the direction of the electric ﬁeld’s oscillation.

Then Equation (1. Pte. as |e1 and b 0 1 |e2 respectively. 1. We also write the scalar product as v1 . Vectors can be expressed as a sum of component vectors.6. probability and the degree of freedom. (1. and Born’s rule determines the probability of transmission or reﬂection through a measuring device. Geometrically.com/physics/7965. b = e2 |v .A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. Likewise. |e1 and |e2 also form an orthonormal basis. in quantum mechanics we use the Dirac notation. a 1 0 =a +b .27) can be written as |v = a|e1 + b|e2 .1 Vectors Vectors are a basic mathematical concept used in quantum theory.6 The Broader View In this section. we present some of the concepts mentioned in this chapter in greater depth. which means that these conditions are satisﬁed: e1 |e1 = 1. but are correlated such that their relative states are well-deﬁned. which is usually done using unit vectors that form a basis.27) b 0 1 a 1 0 In the Dirac notation. Ltd. 1. 1. |e1 and |e2 are orthogonal to each other and normalized to one. http://www. e. v2 or v1 |v2 instead of v1 · v2 . General vectors have similar properties as the geometric vectors encountered in elementary mathematics courses. e2 |e2 = 1 and e1 |e2 = 0. Reversible transformations are also possible for states. Two photons can form entangled states in which each photon does not have a well-deﬁned state.worldscibooks. the results of tossing a coin or casting a dice. (1.18 Six Quantum Pieces written using the Dirac notation. only the statistical behavior of a large number of photons can be predicted. their behaviour is unpredictable in the short SIX QUANTUM PIECES . is written as |v . For example. That is. These include vectors.28) Notice that a is actually the scalar product of |v and |e1 .2 Probability Many events in our daily lives are random. or a = e1 |v . these must be linear and unitary. and . The main diﬀerence is the notation: instead of the commonly used v . The behavior of single photons is intrinsically random.g. |v .html .6.

Here in this book. where A ∩ B denotes that both events A and B occur.Introducing Quantum Physics with Polarization 19 term. and also its colour. In contrast. we call them the degrees of freedom of the car. 1.6. The probability is the proportion of times an event occurs over a large number of repetitions. However. http://www. material etc.29) n(S ) where n(A) is the number of times event A occurs and n(S ) is the total number of events. By deﬁnition. Mathematically. Ltd. velocity. the result of this toss does not aﬀect the result of the next toss. the position and speed of the car are of great importance. then event A will deﬁnitely not happen. in which mono-atomic particles are described as having three degrees of freedom while diatomic particles have ﬁve. The probability P (A) of any event A satisﬁes 0 ≤ P (A) ≤ 1 . Again. temperature. these events may have a regular and predictable pattern in the long term. For example. where E (x) is the electric ﬁeld described by the equation mx in the region. Let us take another system as an example. but not all the variables are of interest. if P (A) = 1.worldscibooks. SIX QUANTUM PIECES . In the case of tossing a coin. Suppose the physical system is an electron and our aim is to examine its motion. if we have identiﬁed a car as our system. Pte. then the colour of the car would be of little signiﬁcance and can be ignored.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. If A and B are independent. then event A will deﬁnitely happen and if P (A) = 0. Hence each toss is independent. Within a system.3 Degree of freedom You may have encountered the phrase “degree of freedom” in chemistry or physics courses. then P (A ∩ B ) = P (A) × P (B ). Its motion can be ¨ = −eE (x).html . In this case. if you toss a coin and the result is a tail. If our aim is to study the motion of the car. each degree of freedom is a type of motion that the particles can undergo. the variables would include its position.com/physics/7965. we ﬁnd that after many tries. For example. we deﬁne the probability of an event A as n ( A) P (A) = . there are often many variables. this term will be used more generally to denote a physical variable that describes the system under study. Two events A and B are independent if the probability of one event happening does not aﬀect the probability of the other event happening. and e is the charge of the electron. the speed and position of the electron are its degrees of freedom. (1. half of the tosses produces heads and the other half produces tails.

7 Velocity-position graph. The shaded region indicates all the cars that are between the west of the city and the city center. By simple logic based on set theory. we illustrate an important diﬀerence between quantum and classical systems through set theory. we can describe its degrees of freedom using a velocity-position graph. as in Figure 1.7. 1. We would then have to express their relationship using Maxwell’s equations. Before we end this discussion. Pte. V e l o c i t y 8 0k m/ h C i t yw e s t C i t yc e n t e r C i t ye a s t 8 0k m/ h Fig.html . Ltd. Thus as the system under consideration changes. http://www. if instead we want to take into account how the electric ﬁeld changes as the electron moves.20 Six Quantum Pieces However.com/physics/7965. the method of analysis also changes.worldscibooks. We ﬁrst consider a classical system: in the example of the car. we know that the car is between the west of the city and the city center. and the analysis becomes more complicated. the overlapped region indicates the cars that are both between the west of the city and the city center. our system would then be composed of both the electron and electric ﬁeld. while the patterned region indicates all the cars that are traveling towards the east. and is traveling at about 40 km/h towards SIX QUANTUM PIECES . Thus if the car is at the position of the dot. and are traveling towards the east.A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co.

P2 → S2 . . 2006). SIX QUANTUM PIECES . From what we have discussed thus far. P1 → S1 . the intersection of S1 and S2 satisﬁes the property P1 and P2 .30) (1.7 General References Popular books on quantum physics: . Le Bellac.worldscibooks. 1995). To generalize this concept. while S1 and S2 are sets that satisfy the physical properties P1 and P2 respectively. P1 ∨ P2 → S1 ∪ S2 . Scarani. .V.G. 3. intuitive relationship breaks down in quantum theory. (1. Cambridge. Pte. Peres.Introducing Quantum Physics with Polarization 21 the city center. Princeton. suppose P1 and P2 are two physical properties. Ltd. Optics (Addison Wesley. In mathematical notation. 2002). . We observe from this example that classical properties can be described using set theory. However. 2. Hecht.M. General advanced textbooks: . Sneaking a Look at God’s Cards (Princeton University Press. http://www. Dordrecht. because quantum systems do not have well-deﬁned properties.31) In words. P2 is satisﬁed if P1 is satisﬁed. and if S1 is a subset of S2 .com/physics/7965. Oxford. 2003). Ghirardi. 2006).On classical optics: E. the union of S1 and S2 satisﬁes the property P1 or P2 . P1 ∧ P2 → S1 ∩ S2 . P1 ⇒ P2 → S1 ⊂ S2 .A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. we know that 1. Quantum Physics: A First Encounter (Oxford University Press. Quantum Theory: Concepts and Methods (Kluwer. 1.html . this simple.C. San Francisco.A. A Short Introduction to Quantum Information and Quantum Computation (Cambridge University Press.

1.worldscibooks. Iα⊥ = I sin2 (θ − α) . Iα = I cos2 (θ − α) . This diﬀerence in the resulting Iα and Iα⊥ can be measured. Thus we conclude that the intensity transmitted by the last polarizer is equal to the original intensity I ! But the direction of polarization has changed: the light entered horizontally polarized and exited vertically polarized.5). and we ﬁnd that lim (cos ) →0 π = 1. Similarly. or directly by using Equation (1. then Iα and Iα⊥ are given as follows: Iα = I cos2 (θ + α) . we can ﬁnd Iα and Iα⊥ with reference to Equation (1.2. SIX QUANTUM PIECES . 2 π We can then take the limit of the term (cos2 )N = (cos2 ) 2 as approaches zero. ﬁrst note that the intensity transmitted by each polarizer is a fraction cos2 of the previous. Solution 1.. http://www.8 Solutions to the Exercises Solution 1. this setup rotated the polarization while maintaining the intensity. Thus to ﬁnd the intensity transmitted by the last one. Suppose that the polarization is eθ .9). Ltd. either by writing both |α and |α⊥ as in Equation (1. These conditions can indeed be veriﬁed. α⊥ |α⊥ = cos2 α + sin2 α = 1 . Iα⊥ = I sin2 (θ + α) .A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co.3. In eﬀect. we can multiply all these factors together: π cos2 × cos2 × . we let you guess why.12). if the polarization is e−θ . (1) A basis is deﬁned by α|α = cos2 α + sin2 α = 1 . in which the diﬀerence in angles is now θ − α. thus the two polarization directions can be distinguished.22 Six Quantum Pieces 1. = (cos2 )N . is called the Zeno eﬀect from the name of a Greek philosopher.. where N = .com/physics/7965. A cultural remark: this eﬀect. Solution 1. Pte. especially in the context of quantum physics.html . To solve this problem. α|α⊥ = cos α sin α − cos α sin α = 0 .

com/physics/7965. 1 (|H + |V ) ⊗ Solution 1. |ψ1 is not entangled: it can be written as √ 2 π 1 π √ (|H + |V ) = |α = ⊗ | β = .5.Introducing Quantum Physics with Polarization 23 (2) Using Born’s rule for probabilities. but it is in all the other cases). 1 √ |α |α + |α⊥ |α⊥ 2 1 = √ (c|H + s|V )(c|H + s|V ) + (s|H − c|V )(s|H − c|V ) 2 1 = √ (c2 + s2 )|HH + (cs − sc)|HV + (sc − cs)|V H + (s2 + c2 )|V V 2 1 = √ |HH + |V V . Pte. http://www. All the other states are entangled (of 4 4 2 course.html . |ψ4 is not entangled if cos θ = 0 or sin θ = 0.4. Ltd. Solution 1.worldscibooks. P (α|β ) = | α|β |2 = | cos α cos β + sin α sin β |2 = cos2 (α − β ) .A First Course in Quantum Physics © World Scientific Publishing Co. 2 SIX QUANTUM PIECES . P (α⊥ |β ) = | α⊥ |β |2 = | sin α cos β − cos α sin β |2 = sin2 (α − β ) .

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UsefulNot usefulgood intro,; at adv. undergrad level, 20pp

good intro,; at adv. undergrad level, 20pp

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