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Decoherence-enhanced measurements

Daniel Braun and John Martin

Quantum-enhanced measurements use highly non-classical quantum states in order to enhance the precision of the measurement of classical quantities, like the length of an optical cavity. The major goal is to beat the standard quantum limit (SQL), i.e. a precision of order $1/\sqrtN$, where $N$ is the number of quantum resources (e.g. the number of photons or atoms used), and to achieve a scaling $1/N$, known as the Heisenberg limit. Doing so would have tremendous impact in many areas, but so far only three experiments have demonstrated a slight improvement over the SQL. The required quantum states are generally difficult to produce, and very prone to decoherence. Here we show that decoherence itself may be used as an extremely sensitive probe of system properties. This should allow for a new measurement principle with the potential to achieve the Heisenberg limit without the need to produce highly entangled states.