Measuring the weak value in an optical experiment
Ritchie, Nicholas William Miller
Hulet, Randall G.
Master of Science
The first experimental realization of a measurement of the weak value of a variable, a concept recently introduced by Aharonov, Albert and Vaidman, is presented. Weak measurements (measurements of a weak value) address the situation in which the separation of the eigenvalues caused by a weakly interacting measurement device is small compared to the width of the distribution of the individual eigenvalues. By appropriate choice of the pre- and post-selected state it is possible that the overlapping eigenvalues will interfere producing a value outside the range of eigenvalues. We demonstrate that the weak value is a practical method of amplifying and resolving the separation between overlapping eigenvalues in an optical experiment proposed by Duck, Stevenson and Sudarshan. In this experiment a birefringent crystal spatially separates two linear polarization components of a Gaussian laser beam by a distance much smaller than the beam waist.