Chirped-pulse interferometry: Classical dispersion cancellation and analogues of two-photon quantum interference
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Interference has long been used for precision measurement of path-length changes. Since the advent of the laser, interference has become one of the most versatile tools in metrology. Specifically, ultra-short laser pulses allow unprecedented resolution in absolute length measurements. While ultra-short laser pulses lead to high resolution, for example in white-light interferometry, they are very susceptible to dispersion. Quantum resources have been proposed to overcome some of the problems related to distortions in the interferometric signal. For example, the Hong-Ou-Mandel (HOM) interferometer relies on frequency-entangled photon pairs and features automatic even-order dispersion cancellation and high interference visibility resilient to unbalanced loss. Quantum-OCT is a technique based on HOM interferometry, that promises to overcome Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) a classical imaging technique based on low coherence light. Furthermore, straightforward modifications of the HOM interferometer can display several different interferometric signals, including the HOM peak, quantum beating, and phase super-resolution. However, the quantum resources required are hard to produce and dim, leading to long integration times and single-photon counting. In this thesis, we introduce the theory behind Chirped-Pulse Interferometry (CPI), a new technique that combines all the advantages of Q-OCT, including even-order dispersion cancellation, but without the need for any quantum resources. We then experimentally implement CPI and demonstrate all the important characteristics shared by the HOM interferometer, but at dramatically larger signal levels. We show how CPI can be used to measure dispersion cancelled axial profiles of an optical sample and show the improvement in resolution over white-light interferometry. Finally, we show that by modifying CPI in analogous ways to HOM, CPI can also be made to produce interferometric signal identical to the HOM peak, quantum beating, and phase super-resolution.