Optical quantum super-resolution imaging and hypothesis testing

Ugo Zanforlin, Cosmo Lupo, Peter Connolly, Pieter Kok, Gerald Stuart Buller, Zixin Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Estimating the angular separation between two incoherent thermal sources is a challenging task for direct imaging, especially when it is smaller than or comparable to the Rayleigh length. In addition, the task of discriminating whether there are one or two sources followed by detecting the faint emission of a secondary source in the proximity of a much brighter one is in itself a severe challenge for direct imaging. Here, we experimentally demonstrate two tasks for super-resolution imaging based on quantum state discrimination and quantum imaging techniques. We show that one can significantly reduce the probability of error for detecting the presence of a weak secondary source, especially when the two sources have small angular separations. In this work, we reduce the experimental complexity down to a single two-mode interferometer: we show that (1) this simple set-up is sufficient for the state discrimination task, and (2) if the two sources are of equal brightness, then this measurement can super-resolve their angular separation, saturating the quantum Cramer-Rao bound.By using a collection baseline of 5.3 mm, we resolve the angular separation of two sources that are placed 15 μm apart at a distance of 1.0 m with an accuracy of 1.7 % -- this is between 2 to 3 orders of magnitudes more accurate than shot-noise limited direct imaging.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5373
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2022


  • Quantum information
  • Super-resolution imaging
  • Thermal state
  • Exoplanet detection
  • Quantum entropy
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Quantum imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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