The technique of dc-balanced, pulsed homodyne detection for the purpose of determining optical-field statistics on short time scales is analyzed theoretically. Such measurements provide photon-number and phase distributions associated with a repetitive signal light field in a short time window. Time- and space-varying signal and local-oscillator pulses are treated, thus generalizing earlier treatments of photoelectron difference statistics in homodyne detection. Experimental issues, such as the effects of imperfect detector balancing on (time-integrated) dc detection and the consequences of background noise caused by non-mode-matched parts of the multimode signal field, are analyzed. The Wigner, or joint, distribution for the two field-quadrature amplitudes during the sampling time window can be directly determined by tomographic inversion of the measured photoelectron distributions. It is pointed out that homodyne detection provides a new method for the simultaneous measurement of temporal and spectral information. Although the theory is generally formulated, with both signal and local-oscillator fields being quantized, emphasis is placed on the limit of a strong, coherent local-oscillator field, making semiclassical interpretation possible.
© 1995 Optical Society of America
M. G. Raymer, J. Cooper, H. J. Carmichael, M. Beck, and D. T. Smithey, "Ultrafast measurement of optical-field statistics by dc-balanced homodyne detection," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 12, 1801-1812 (1995)