Quantum Nondemolition Measurements

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Science  01 Aug 1980:
Vol. 209, Issue 4456, pp. 547-557
DOI: 10.1126/science.209.4456.547


Some future gravitational-wave antennas will be cylinders of mass ∼100 kilograms, whose end-to-end vibrations must be measured so accurately (10–19 centimeter) that they behave quantum mechanically. Moreover, the vibration amplitude must be measured over and over again without perturbing it (quantum nondemolition measurement). This contrasts with quantum chemistry, quantum optics, or atomic, nuclear, and elementary particle physics, where one usually makes measurements on an ensemble of identical objects and does not care whether any single object is perturbed or destroyed by the measurement. This article describes the new electronic techniques required for quantum nondemolition measurements and the theory underlying them. Quantum nondemolition measurements may find application elsewhere in science and technology.