Gravitationally induced phase shift on a single photon


New publication in New Journal of Physics

The effect of the Earth's gravitational potential on a quantum wave function has only been observed for massive particles. In this paper we present a scheme to measure a gravitationally induced phase shift on a single photon traveling in a coherent superposition along different paths of an optical fiber interferometer. To create a measurable signal for the interaction between the static gravitational potential and the wave function of the photon, we propose a variant of a conventional Mach–Zehnder interferometer. We show that the predicted relative phase difference of 10−5 rad is measurable even in the presence of fiber noise, provided additional stabilization techniques are implemented for each arm of a large-scale fiber interferometer. Effects arising from the rotation of the Earth and the material properties of the fibers are analysed. We conclude that optical fiber interferometry is a feasible way to measure the gravitationally induced phase shift on a single-photon wave function, and thus provides a means to corroborate the equivalence of the energy of the photon and its effective gravitational mass.


Publication: "Gravitationally induced phase shift on a single photon"; C. Hilweg, F. Massa, D. Martynov, N. Mavalvala, P.T. Chruściel, P. Walther; New Journal of Physics 19, 033028 (2017)