Abstract:
We show that the sensitivity of an atomic clock can be enhanced below the shot-noise level by initially squeezing, and then measuring in output, the population of a single atomic level. This can simplify current experimental protocols which requires squeezing of the relative number of particles of the two populated states. We finally study, as a specific application, the clock sensitivity obtained with a single mode quantum non-demolition measurement.

Abstract:
We show that the phase sensitivity $\Delta \theta$ of a Mach-Zehnder interferometer fed by a coherent state in one input port and squeezed-vacuum in the other one is i) independent from the true value of the phase shift and ii) can reach the Heisenberg limit $\Delta \theta \sim 1/N_T$, where $N_T$ is the average number of particles of the input states. We also show that the Cramer-Rao lower bound, $\Delta \theta \propto 1/ \sqrt{|\alpha|^2 e^{2r} + \sinh^2r}$, can be saturated for arbitrary values of the squeezing parameter $r$ and the amplitude of the coherent mode $|\alpha|$ by a Bayesian phase inference protocol.

Abstract:
We show that the quantum Fisher information provides a sufficient condition to recognize multi-particle entanglement in a $N$ qubit state. The same criterion gives a necessary and sufficient condition for sub shot-noise phase sensitivity in the estimation of a collective rotation angle $\theta$. The analysis therefore singles out the class of entangled states which are {\it useful} to overcome classical phase sensitivity in metrology and sensors. We finally study the creation of useful entangled states by the non-linear dynamical evolution of two decoupled Bose-Einstein condensates or trapped ions.

Abstract:
Quantum superpositions of macroscopically distinguishable states having distinct phases can be created with a Bose-Einstein condensate trapped in a periodic potential. The experimental signature is contained in the phase distribution of the interference patterns obtained after releasing the traps. Moreover, in the double well case, this distribution exhibits a dramatic dependence on the parity of the total number of atoms. We finally show that, for single well occupations up to a few hundred atoms, the macroscopic quantum superposition can be robust enough against decoherence to be experimentally revealable within current technology.

Abstract:
Bose Einstein Condensates, with their coherence properties, have attracted wide interest for their possible application to ultra precise interferometry and ultra weak force sensors. Since condensates, unlike photons, are interacting, they may permit the realization of specific quantum states needed as input of an interferometer to approach the Heisenberg limit, the supposed lower bound to precision phase measurements. To this end, we study the sensitivity to external weak perturbations of a representative matter-wave Mach-Zehnder interferometer whose input are two Bose-Einstein condensates created by splitting a single condensate in two parts. The interferometric phase sensitivity depends on the specific quantum state created with the two condensates, and, therefore, on the time scale of the splitting process. We identify three different regimes, characterized by a phase sensitivity $\Delta \theta$ scaling with the total number of condensate particles $N$ as i) the standard quantum limit $\Delta \theta \sim 1/N^{1/2}$, ii) the sub shot-noise $\Delta \theta \sim 1/N^{3/4}$ and the iii) the Heisenberg limit $\Delta \theta \sim 1/N$. However, in a realistic dynamical BEC splitting, the 1/N limit requires a long adiabaticity time scale, which is hardly reachable experimentally. On the other hand, the sub shot-noise sensitivity $\Delta \theta \sim 1/N^{3/4}$ can be reached in a realistic experimental setting. We also show that the $1/N^{3/4}$ scaling is a rigorous upper bound in the limit $N \to \infty$, while keeping constant all different parameters of the bosonic Mach-Zehnder interferometer.

Abstract:
We study the quantum dynamics of a BEC condensate trapped in a double-well potential with a rising interwell barrier. We analytically find the characteristic time scales of the splitting process and compare our results with numerical analyses available in the literature. In first stage of the dynamics, the condensate follows adiabatically the rising of the interwell barrier. At a critical time $t_{ad}$, small amplitude fluctuations around the average trajectory increase exponentially fast, signaling the break-down of adiabaticity. We have found a highly non-trivial dependence of the dephasing time $t_D$, defined by $\sigma_{\phi}(t_D)=1$, where $\sigma_{\phi}(t)$ is the dynamical quantum phase spreading, on $t_{ad}$ and on the ramping time of the interwell barrier.

Abstract:
A Bose-Einstein "double-slit" interferometer has been recently realized experimentally by (Y. Shin et. al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 92 50405 (2004)). We analyze the interferometric steps by solving numerically the time-dependent Gross-Pitaevski equation in three-dimensional space. We focus on the adiabaticity time scales of the problem and on the creation of spurious collective excitations as a possible source of the strong dephasing observed experimentally. The role of quantum fluctuations is discussed.

Abstract:
A beam splitter is an important component of an atomic/optical Mach-Zehnder interferometer. Here we study a Bose Einstein Condensate beam splitter, realized with a double well potential of tunable height. We analyze how the sensitivity of a Mach Zehnder interferometer is degraded by the non-linear particle-particle interaction during the splitting dynamics. We distinguish three regimes, Rabi, Josephson and Fock, and associate to them a different scaling of the phase sensitivity with the total number of particles.

Abstract:
We study a Mach-Zehnder interferometer fed by a coherent state in one input port and vacuum in the other. We explore a Bayesian phase estimation strategy to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve the standard quantum limit independently from the true value of the phase shift and specific assumptions on the noise of the interferometer. We have been able to implement the protocol using parallel operation of two photon-number-resolving detectors and multiphoton coincidence logic electronics at the output ports of a weakly-illuminated Mach-Zehnder interferometer. This protocol is unbiased and saturates the Cramer-Rao phase uncertainty bound and, therefore, is an optimal phase estimation strategy.

Abstract:
Advancements in physics are often motivated/accompanied by advancements in our precision measurements abilities. The current generation of atomic and optical interferometers is limited by shot noise, a fundamental limit when estimating a phase shift with classical light or uncorrelated atoms. In the last years, it has been clarified that the creation of special quantum correlations among particles, which will be called here useful entanglement, can strongly enhance the interferometric sensitivity. Pioneer experiments have already demonstrated the basic principles. We are probably at the verge of a second quantum revolution where quantum mechanics of many-body systems is exploited to overcome the limitations of classical technologies. This review illustrates the deep connection between entanglement and sub shot noise sensitivity.