Detecting a photon

In the double-slit experiments, how to detect a photon without destroying it?

— Me@2018-11-10 08:07:29 PM


Artlav: I’ve been thinking about the double slit experiment – the one with single photons going thru two slits forming an interference pattern never the less. Now, one thing i was unable to find clarification for is the claim that placing a detector even in just one of the slits to find out thru which slit a photon passed will result in the disappearance of the interference pattern. The question is – how does such detector work? How can one detect a photon without destroying it?

Cthugha (Science Advisor): Well, in the kind of experiment you describe, the photon will usually be destroyed by detecting it. However, in some cases it is possible to detect photons without destroying them. Usually one uses some resonator, for example some cavity, in which photons go back and forth and prepare some atom in a very well defined spin state. Now the atom falls through the cavity perpendicular to the photons moving back and forth and the spin state of the atom after leaving the cavity will depend on the number of photons because the spin precession will be a bit faster in presence of photons. If you do this several times, you will get a nondestructive photon number measurement. However, these are so called weak measurements, so this means you do not change the photon states if you are in a photon number eigenstate already. The first measurement however might change the photon state from some undefined state to a photon number eigenstate.

Reference: physicsforums double-slit-experiment-counter.274914



2018.11.10 Saturday ACHK