New paper: The information capacity of a single photon

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by Peter P. Rohde, Joseph F. Fitzsimons, Alexei Gilchrist.

Quantum states of light are the obvious choice for communicating quantum information. To date, encoding information into the polarisation states of single photons has been widely used as these states form an natural closed two state qubit. However, photons are able to encode much more — in principle infinite — information via the continuous spatio-temporal degrees of freedom. Here we consider the information capacity of an optical quantum channel, such as an optical fibre, where a spectrally encoded single photon is the means of communication. We use the Holevo bound to calculate an upper bound on the channel capacity, and relate this to the spectral encoding basis and the spectral properties of the channel. Further, we derive analytic bounds on the capacity of such channels, and in the case of a symmetric two-state encoding calculate the exact capacity of the corresponding channel.

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