Photon Quantum Mechanics for Undergraduates


Charlie Holbrow
Colgate University

Superposition lies at the heart of quantum mechanics. Non-local "spooky action at a distance," as Einstein called it, is a consequence of what Schrödinger called "entangled states." Such states promise to be useful for unbreakable cryptography, for innovative parallel computation, and for transferring the properties of a quantum state from a nearby object to a distant one, i.e. "quantum teleportation." Advances in single-photon detection and the development of bright sources of entangled photons make it feasible to introduce their remarkable quantum properties into the undergraduate curriculum. With NSF support we are preparing five undergraduate laboratory experiments that unambiguously exhibit the quantum nature of the photon, single-photon interference, two-photon interference,
quantum erasers and Bell's inequalities. I will describe some of these experiments and how they can acquaint undergraduates with the surprising ramifications of superposition in quantum mechanics.

©Copyright 1999 KSU Department of Physics