Single-photon sources are at the heart of quantum-optical networks, with their uniquely quantum emission and phenomenon of two-photon interference allowing for the generation and transfer of nonclassical states. Although a few analytical methods have been briefly investigated for describing pulsed single-photon sources, these methods apply only to either perfectly ideal or at least extremely idealized sources. Here, we present the first complete picture of pulsed single-photon sources by elaborating how to numerically and fully characterize non-ideal single-photon sources operating in a pulsed regime. In order to achieve this result, we make the connection between quantum Monte-Carlo simulations, experimental characterizations, and an extended form of the quantum regression theorem. We elaborate on how an ideal pulsed single-photon source is connected to its photocount distribution and its measured degree of second- and first-order optical coherence. By doing so, we provide a description of the relationship between instantaneous source correlations and the typical experimental interferometers (Hanbury-Brown and Twiss, Hong–Ou–Mandel, and Mach–Zehnder) used to characterize such sources. Then, we use these techniques to explore several prototypical quantum systems and their non-ideal behaviors. As an example numerical result, we show that for the most popular single-photon source—a resonantly excited two-level system—its error probability is directly related to its excitation pulse length. We believe that the intuition gained from these representative systems and characters can be used to interpret future results with more complicated source Hamiltonians and behaviors. Finally, we have thoroughly documented our simulation methods with contributions to the Quantum Optics Toolbox in Python in order to make our work easily accessible to other scientists and engineers.
- quantum-optical networks