Gravitationally induced phase shift on a single photon

Christopher Hilweg, Francesco Massa, Denis Martynov, Nergis Mavalvala, Piotr T. Chrusciel, Philip Walther

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4 Citations (Scopus)
148 Downloads (Pure)


The effect of the Earth's gravitational potential on a quantum wave function has only been observed for massive particles. In this paper we present a scheme to measure a gravitationally induced phase shift on a single photon travelling in a coherent superposition along different paths of an optical fiber interferometer. To create a measurable signal for the interaction between the static gravitational potential and the wave function of the photon, we propose a variant of a conventional Mach-Zehnder interferometer. We show that the predicted relative phase difference of $10^{-5}$ radians is measurable even in the presence of fiber noise, provided additional stabilization techniques are implemented for each arm of a large-scale fiber interferometer. Effects arising from the rotation of the Earth and the material properties of the fibers are analysed. We conclude that optical fiber interferometry is a feasible way to measure the gravitationally induced phase shift on a single-photon wave function, and thus provides a means to corroborate the equivalence of the energy of the photon and its effective gravitational mass.
Original languageEnglish
Article number033028
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

13 pages, 5 figures


  • quant-ph


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