We experimentally show that quantum entanglement can be symmetry protected in the interaction with a single subwavelength plasmonic nanoaperture. In particular, we experimentally demonstrate that two-photon entanglement can be either completely preserved or completely lost after the interaction with the nanoaperture, solely depending on the relative phase between the quantum states. We achieve this effect by using specially engineered two-photon states to match the properties of the nanoaperture. In this way we can access a symmetry protected state, i.e., a state constrained by the geometry of the interaction to retain its entanglement. In spite of the small volume of interaction, we show that the symmetry protected entangled state retains its main properties. This connection between nanophotonics and quantum optics probes the fundamental limits of the phenomenon of quantum interference.

News & Commentary in Physics:

Focus: Entangled Photons Sneak through Hole Unscathed

The fragile quantum state of a pair of entangled photons can be protected when the photons pass through a nanoscale hole, which may be useful in future light-based computing.

Mark Buchanan, Physics 11, 108 (2018)