Exceptional points of any order in a single, lossy waveguide beam splitter by photon-number-resolved detection
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Exceptional points (EPs) are degeneracies of non-Hermitian operators where, in addition to the eigenvalues, the corresponding eigenmodes become degenerate. Classical and quantum photonic systems with EPs have attracted tremendous attention due to their unusual properties, topological features, and an enhanced sensitivity that depends on the order of the EP, i.e., the number of degenerate eigenmodes. Yet, experimentally engineering higher-order EPs in classical or quantum domains remain an open challenge due to the stringent symmetry constraints that are required for the coalescence of multiple eigenmodes. Here, we analytically show that the number-resolved dynamics of a single, lossy waveguide beam splitter, excited by 𝑁 indistinguishable photons and post-selected to the 𝑁-photon subspace, will exhibit an EP of order 𝑁+1. By using the well-established mapping between a beam splitter Hamiltonian and the perfect state transfer model in the photon-number space, we analytically obtain the time evolution of a general 𝑁-photon state and numerically simulate the system’s evolution in the post-selected manifold. Our results pave the way toward realizing robust, arbitrary-order EPs on demand in a single device.