Abstract

The technique of dc-balanced, pulsed homodyne detection for the purpose of determining optical-field statistics on short time scales is analyzed theoretically. Such measurements provide photon-number and phase distributions associated with a repetitive signal light field in a short time window. Time- and space-varying signal and local-oscillator pulses are treated, thus generalizing earlier treatments of photoelectron difference statistics in homodyne detection. Experimental issues, such as the effects of imperfect detector balancing on (time-integrated) dc detection and the consequences of background noise caused by non-mode-matched parts of the multimode signal field, are analyzed. The Wigner, or joint, distribution for the two field-quadrature amplitudes during the sampling time window can be directly determined by tomographic inversion of the measured photoelectron distributions. It is pointed out that homodyne detection provides a new method for the simultaneous measurement of temporal and spectral information. Although the theory is generally formulated, with both signal and local-oscillator fields being quantized, emphasis is placed on the limit of a strong, coherent local-oscillator field, making semiclassical interpretation possible.

© 1995 Optical Society of America

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