Anti-coalescence of bosons on a lossy beam splitter

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Two-boson interference, a fundamentally quantum effect, has been extensively studied with photons through the Hong-Ou-Mandel effect and observed with guided plasmons. Using two freely propagating surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) interfering on a lossy beam splitter, we show that the presence of loss enables us to modify the reflection and transmission factors of the beam splitter, thus revealing quantum interference paths that do not exist in a lossless configuration. We investigate the two-plasmon interference on beam splitters with different sets of reflection and transmission factors. Through coincidence-detection measurements, we observe either coalescence or anti-coalescence of SPPs. The results show that losses can be viewed as a degree of freedom to control quantum processes.

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