Abstract

A phase-sensitive (PS) heterodyne detector is intrinsically resistant to classical noises and useful in measurement of low-frequency signals below the shot noise. Despite the existence of image band vacuum, we show that the quantum-noise power level of this heterodyne detector sensing a coherent signal is exactly one light quantum per measurement time, i.e., twice the vacuum fluctuation power, which can be further reduced by use of squeezed light. We then report on an experiment on a PS heterodyne detector with a 10 Hz 1.0×1018  W optical signal (1064 nm wavelength) at its input. The noise floor of the unmodulated coherent light is 2.2(±0.1)×1019  W/Hz from 2 Hz to 20 Hz, and the signal-to-noise ratio is about 6.6 dB for the measured signal when the resolution bandwidth is 1 Hz. The quantum noise floor is reduced by 1.6(±0.3)dB when squeezed light is used, and the sub-shot-noise power spectral density is 1.6(±0.1)×1019  W/Hz between 2 Hz and 20 Hz. This work should be an important advance towards squeezing-improved precision measurements of low-frequency signals with heterodyne detectors, including audio-band gravitational-wave detection.

© 2018 Optical Society of America

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