Two-level systems, or qubits, afford complete quantum control using only classical electrical signals. Achieving the same degree of control over harmonic resonators and photons has remained elusive, due to their infinite number of equally spaced energy levels. We exploit our complete qubit control by using a superconducting phase qubit to pump microwave photons into a high-Q coplanar wave guide resonator and, subsequently, use the qubit to read out the resonator state. This scheme has previously allowed us to prepare and detect photon number states (Fock states [1]) in the resonator and to measure their decay. Using a generalization of a scheme developed by Law and Eberly [2], we can now create arbitrary quantum states of the photon field with up to approximately 10 photons [3]. We analyze the prepared states by directly mapping out the corresponding Wigner function, which is the phase-space equivalent of the density matrix, and provides a complete description of the quantum state. Movies of the decay of a variety of non-classical states show a loss of quantum coherence over the energy decay time of the resonator.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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