Although perfect copying of unknown quantum systems is forbidden by the laws of quantum mechanics, approximate cloning is possible. A natural way of realizing quantum cloning of photons is by stimulated emission. In this context, the fundamental quantum limit to the quality of the clones is imposed by the unavoidable presence of spontaneous emission. In our experiment, a single input photon stimulates the emission of additional photons from a source on the basis of parametric down-conversion. This leads to the production of quantum clones with near-optimal fidelity. We also demonstrate universality of the copying procedure by showing that the same fidelity is achieved for arbitrary input states.
A. Lamas-Linares, C. Simon, J. C. Howell, and D. Bouwmeester, Experimental Quantum Cloning of Single Photons, Science 296(5568), 712-714 DOI: 10.1126/science.1068972">