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We establish a method of directly measuring and estimating nonclassicality-operationally defined in terms of the distinguishability of a given state from one with a positive Wigner function. It allows us to certify nonclassicality, based on possibly much fewer measurement settings than necessary for obtaining complete tomographic knowledge, and is at the same time equipped with a full certificate. We find that even from measuring two conjugate variables alone, one may infer the nonclassicality of quantum mechanical modes. This method also provides a practical tool to eventually certify such features in mechanical degrees of freedom in opto-mechanics. The proof of the result is based on Bochner's theorem characterizing classical and quantum characteristic functions and on semidefinite programming. In this joint theoretical-experimental work we present data from experimental optical Fock state preparation.

We show that quantum circuits where the initial state and all the following quantum operations can be represented by positive Wigner functions can be classically efficiently simulated. This is true both for continuous-variable as well as discrete variable systems in odd prime dimensions, two cases which will be treated on entirely the same footing. Noting the fact that Clifford and Gaussian operations preserve the positivity of the Wigner function, our result generalizes the Gottesman-Knill theorem. Our algorithm provides a way of sampling from the output distribution of a computation or a simulation, including the efficient sampling from an approximate output distribution in the case of sampling imperfections for initial states, gates, or measurements. In this sense, this work highlights the role of the positive Wigner function as separating classically efficiently simulable systems from those that are potentially universal for quantum computing and simulation, and it emphasizes the role of negativity of the Wigner function as a computational resource.

Matrix product states and their continuous analogues are variational classes of states that capture quantum many-body systems or quantum fields with low entanglement; they are at the basis of the density-matrix renormalization group method and continuous variants thereof. In this work we show that, generically, N-point functions of arbitrary operators in discrete and continuous translation invariant matrix product states are completely characterized by the corresponding two- and three-point functions. Aside from having important consequences for the structure of correlations in quantum states with low entanglement, this result provides a new way of reconstructing unknown states from correlation measurements, e. g., for one-dimensional continuous systems of cold atoms. We argue that such a relation of correlation functions may help in devising perturbative approaches to interacting theories.

We introduce a framework of optomechanical systems that are driven with a mildly amplitude-modulated light field, but that are not subject to classical feedback or squeezed input light. We find that in such a system one can achieve large degrees of squeezing of a mechanical micromirror-signifying quantum properties of optomechanical systems- without the need of any feedback and control, and within parameters reasonable in experimental settings. Entanglement dynamics is shown of states following classical quasiperiodic orbits in their first moments. We discuss the complex time dependence of the modes of a cavity-light field and a mechanical mode in phase space. Such settings give rise to certifiable quantum properties within experimental conditions feasible with present technology.

The search for experimental demonstration of the quantum behavior of macroscopic mechanical resonators is a fast growing field of investigation and recent results suggest that the generation of quantum states of resonators with a mass at the microgram scale is within reach. In this chapter we give an overview of two important topics within this research field: cooling to the motional ground state and the generation of entanglement involving mechanical, optical, and atomic degrees of freedom. We focus on optomechanical systems where the resonator is coupled to one or more driven cavity modes by the radiation-pressure interaction. We show that robust stationary entanglement between the mechanical resonator and the output fields of the cavity can be generated, and that this entanglement can be transferred to atomic ensembles placed within the cavity. These results show that optomechanical devices are interesting candidates for the realization of quantum memories and interfaces for continuous variable quantum-communication networks.

This thesis contains several theoretical studies on optomechanical systems, i.e. physical devices where mechanical degrees of freedom are coupled with optical cavity modes. This optomechanical interaction, mediated by radiation pressure, can be exploited for cooling and controlling mechanical resonators in a quantum regime. The goal of this thesis is to propose several new ideas for preparing meso- scopic mechanical systems (of the order of 10^15 atoms) into highly non-classical states. In particular we have shown new methods for preparing optomechani-cal pure states, squeezed states and entangled states. At the same time, proce-dures for experimentally detecting these quantum effects have been proposed. In particular, a quantitative measure of non classicality has been defined in terms of the negativity of phase space quasi-distributions. An operational al- gorithm for experimentally estimating the non-classicality of quantum states has been proposed and successfully applied in a quantum optics experiment. The research has been performed with relatively advanced mathematical tools related to differential equations with periodic coefficients, classical and quantum Bochner’s theorems and semidefinite programming. Nevertheless the physics of the problems and the experimental feasibility of the results have been the main priorities.