Jean-Claude Besse

Single photon detection

Information is often transmitted using electromagnetic radiation, the quantum units of which are photons. In the microwave regime, detecting single itinerant photons at the receiving end of a transmission channel is challenging since microwave photons possess 5 orders of magnitude less energy than their optical counterparts. In this work, we show how to transfer the information content of a propagating photon into an excitation of a stationary qubit. By reading out the state of the latter, we acquire knowledge about the photon’s presence without destroying it. This ‘non-demolition’ aspect opens up new possibilities of detecting the photon in flight while allowing it to travel on towards another destination.