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Quantum feedback for measurement and control


The standard quantum formalism introduced at the undergraduate level treats measurement as an instantaneous collapse. In reality however, no physical process can occur over a truly infinitesimal time interval. A more subtle investigation of open quantum systems lead to the theory of continuous measurement and quantum trajectories, in which wave function collapse occurs over a finite time scale associated with an interaction. Within this formalism, it becomes possible to ask many new questions that would be trivial or even ill-defined in the context of the more basic measurement model. In this thesis, we investigate both theoretically and experimentally what fundamentally new capabilities arise when an experimental apparatus can resolve the continuous dynamics of a measurement. Theoretically, we show that when one can perform feedback operations on the timescale of the measurement process, the resulting tools provide significantly more control over entanglement generation, and in some settings can generate it optimally. Experimentally, we show that continuous measurement allows one to observe the dynamics of a system undergoing simultaneous non-commuting measurements, which provides a reinterpretation of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Finally, we combine the theoretical focus on quantum feedback with the experimental capabilities of superconducting circuits to implement a feedback controlled quantum amplifier. The resulting system is capable of adaptive measurement, which we use to perform the first canonical phase measurement.

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