Rev. Mod. Phys.: Hochrainer et al.


Quantum indistinguishability by path identity and with undetected photons

Hochrainer, A., Lahiri, M., Erhard, M., Krenn, M. & Zeilinger, A.



Two processes of photon-pair creation can be arranged such that the paths of the emitted photons are identical. The path information is thereby not erased but rather never born in the first place due to this path identity. In addition to its implications for fundamental physics, this concept has recently led to a series of impactful discoveries in the fields of imaging, spectroscopy, and quantum information science. Here the idea of path identity is presented and a comprehensive review of recent developments is provided. Specifically, the concept of path identity is introduced based on three defining experimental ideas from the early 1990s. The three experiments have in common that they contain two photon-pair sources. The paths of one or both photons from the different sources overlap such that no measurement can recognize from which source they originate. A wide range of noteworthy quantum interference effects (at the single- or two-photon level), such as induced coherence, destructive interference of photon pairs, and entanglement generation, are subsequently described. Progress in the exploration of these ideas has stagnated and has gained momentum again only in the last few years. The focus of the review is the new development in the last few years that modified and generalized the ideas from the early 1990s. These developments are overviewed and explained under the same conceptual umbrella, which will help the community develop new applications and realize the foundational implications of this sleeping beauty.