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It is possible to split a single light wave/photon into two using a half-silvered mirror. Is it then possible to split the two waves into four, eight, etc? I've not found an experiment that has done this – has it been done?
It is possible to split a single light wave/photon into two using a half-silvered mirror. Is it then possible to split the two waves into four, eight, etc? I've not found an experiment that has done this – has it been done?
Photons can indeed be "split", but not by something as simple as a half-silvered mirror. In a process called parametric down conversion (PDC), photons entering a crystal of a birefringent material such as BBO (beta barium borate) or KDP (potassium dihydrogen phosphate) can be split into two orthogonally polarized photons called the signal and idler. The frequencies of the signal and idler photons sum to the frequency of the original "pump" photon. Depending on the experimental conditions, the ratio between the signal and idler photons can be tuned as desired, so yes, it would be possible to split a photon precisely in two (this has been done).
One point here is that, since this all happens inside a dense medium, it is probably better to think of the original photon as being destroyed, and the two new photons (signal and idler) created by interaction of the pump with the atoms of the birefringent material, than as a single photon that gets split into two parts.
It would almost seem that, since total freq is conserved, total energy is conserved too.
This means that, while there's is no theoretical limit to how often they could be split, you'd reach a point where you're trying to split an extremely low energy photon into two ... uh ... extremlyier low energy photons.
But what I was getting at was a quantum 'split', so you fire a light wave at a half-silvered mirror, and you then have a 50/50 chance of finding it in either of the two directions, and when you do find it, you find the whole of the wave.
I would like to know whether this can be done over and over, 'splitting' the beam without detecting it so that, for instance, there is a 50% chance of finding it in one direction and a 25% chance of finding it in two other directions.
It is possible to split a single light wave/photon into two using a half-silvered mirror. Is it then possible to split the two waves into four, eight, etc? I've not found an experiment that has done this – has it been done?
Ah, that's fascinating – orthogonally polarized photons – might those be related to electro/magnetism parts of the wave?
But what I was getting at was a quantum 'split', so you fire a light wave at a half-silvered mirror, and you then have a 50/50 chance of finding it in either of the two directions, and when you do find it, you find the whole of the wave.
I would like to know whether this can be done over and over, 'splitting' the beam without detecting it so that, for instance, there is a 50% chance of finding it in one direction and a 25% chance of finding it in two other directions.