Abstract

Two schemes for interferometric optical phase measurement, with sensitivity limited only by quantum noise in the light, are analyzed. Direct detection is applicable to signals at modulation frequencies away from the technical noise of the light, so that quantum noise dominates the measurement. Alternatively signals otherwise obscured by classical optical noise may be recovered with a phase-modulation technique that shifts the signals to a quantum-noise-limited region of the photocurrent spectrum. The analysis is tested experimentally by using a polarimetric electric-field sensor. In the direct-detection scheme quantum-noise-limited performance produced a phase sensitivity of 0.25 μrad. The indirect scheme allowed subkilohertz signals to be extracted from classical noise 67 dB greater with sensitivity approaching the quantum noise limit.

© 1993 Optical Society of America

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