Purdue University Graduate School
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Quantum Sensing of Photonic Spin Density with Spin Qubits

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posted on 2021-12-19, 16:38 authored by Farid KalhorFarid Kalhor
Optical signals are a necessary tool for quantum technologies to carry information both for long-range and on-chip application. The scope of their use is determined by their ability to effectively interact with qubits. The deep-subwavelength interaction volume demands the understanding of the properties of optical fields in the near-field and light-matter interaction in this regime. Recent studies have unraveled the rich characteristics in the physical quantity known as the near-field photonic spin density (PSD). Photonic spin density is the spatial distribution of light's spin angular momentum. It is characterized by the degree of circular polarization of an optical field in deep-subwavelength volumes. In this thesis we study the properties of PSD in the near-field regime and demonstrate a platform for coherent light-spin-qubit interaction based on PSD. We show that nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamond can coherently interact with an optical beam where the interaction strength is determined by PSD in the nanoscale. To understand the near-field characteristics of PSD we study the evanescent waves and spin-momentum locking of light.

Evanescent electromagnetic waves possess spin-momentum locking, where the direction of propagation (momentum) is locked to the inherent polarization of the wave (transverse spin). We study the optical forces arising from this universal phenomenon and show that the fundamental origin of recently reported optical chiral forces is spin-momentum locking. For evanescent waves, we show that the direction of energy flow, direction of decay, and direction of spin follow a right hand rule for three different cases of total internal reflection, surface plasmon polaritons, and HE11 mode of an optical fiber.
Furthermore, we explain how the recently reported phenomena of lateral optical force on chiral and achiral particles is caused by the transverse spin of the evanescent field and the spin-momentum locking phenomenon. Our work presents a unified view on spin-momentum locking and how it affects optical forces on chiral and achiral particles.

To probe the near-field properties of PSD, we propose and employ a single NV center in diamond as a nanoscale sensor. NV centers have emerged as promising room-temperature quantum sensors for probing condensed matter phenomena ranging from spin liquids, two-dimensional (2D) magnetic materials, and magnons to hydrodynamic flow of current. Here, we demonstrate that the NV center in diamond can be used as a quantum sensor for detecting the photonic spin density. We exploit a single spin qubit on an atomic force microscope tip to probe the spinning field of an incident Gaussian light beam. The spinning field of light induces an effective static magnetic field in the single spin qubit probe. We perform room-temperature sensing using Bloch sphere operations driven by a microwave field (XY8 protocol). This nanoscale quantum magnetometer can measure the local polarization of light in ultra-sub-wavelength volumes. We also put forth a rigorous theory of the experimentally measured phase change using the NV center Hamiltonian and perturbation theory involving only virtual photon transitions.

In order to study the wavelength dependence of the optically induced magnetic field, we demonstrate this effect for an ensemble of NV centers. We characterize the wavelength dependence of the effective static magnetic field caused by the interaction of PSD and the spin qubit. We show that the strength of the field is inversely dependent on the detuning between the frequency of the optical beam and the optical transition of the NV centers. We show an optically induced rotation of over 10 degrees in the spin qubit of NV centers at room temperature. The direct detection of the photonic spin density at the nanoscale using NV centers in diamond opens interesting quantum metrological avenues for studying exotic phases of photons, nanoscale properties of structured light as well as future on-chip applications.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Zubin Jacob

Additional Committee Member 2

Andrew M. Weiner

Additional Committee Member 3

Daniel S. Elliott

Additional Committee Member 4

Dana Weinstein