Interference of a Single Photon

This Page contains information about an experiment done with a single photon counting CCD camera. A brief description of the experiment is given and then the results are shown. The experiments (as well as a number of others) were carried out under an NSF ILI grant 9251313 to Robert Austin and Lyman Page at Princeton University.

Movie added at the end. Please feel free to use. -L.Page. Posted July 5, 2010

Background

The Demonstration


This shows the result after counting for 1/30 second. The few white dots in the image are photons. One expects to get $3.2\times10^{15}$ X $\alpha$ X (quantum efficiency) X (time) = 5 photons. Note that the photons are distinct.


This is the image after averaging for 1 second. The interference pattern is beginning to immerge but it is clear that it is made up of photons. Though one might believe that there are three ``piles of rocks,'' one would be hard pressed to be sure that there were more.


Same image as the above after averaging for 100 seconds. Even though there were only three slits, 5 maxima are clearly visible. Here we have an interference pattern made up of discrete particle detections.

Ye Ma and Omelan Stryzak put together a movie of the photon counting some time ago. In this particular instance, the light level is pretty high. The movie starts out after some accumulation (integration) has occurred. In the middle of the movie, the accumulation is reset and one can see the raw input of single counts. The pattern then builds up again.

  • Movie of counting .

    References

    Lyman Page / page@princeton.edu