Experimental determination of entanglement with a single measurement

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Nearly all protocols requiring shared quantum information1-such as quantum teleportation2or key distribution3-rely on entanglement between distant parties. However, entanglement is difficult to characterize experimentally. All existing techniques for doing so, including entanglement witnesses4,11,12or Bell inequalities5, disclose the entanglement of some quantum states but fail for other states; therefore, they cannot provide satisfactory results in general. Such methods are fundamentally different from entanglement measures that, by definition, quantify the amount of entanglement in any state. However, these measures suffer from the severe disadvantage that they typically are not directly accessible in laboratory experiments. Here we report a linear optics experiment in which we directly observe a pure-state entanglement measure, namely concurrence6. Our measurement set-up includes two copies of a quantum state: these 'twin' states are prepared in the polarization and momentum degrees of freedom of two photons, and concurrence is measured with a single, local measurement on just one of the photons.

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