We derive a bound on the ability of a linear optical network to estimate a linear combination of independent phase shifts by using an arbitrary non-classical but unentangled input state, thereby elucidating the quantum resources required to obtain the Heisenberg limit with a multi-port interferometer. Our bound reveals that while linear networks can generate highly entangled states, they cannot effectively combine quantum resources that are well distributed across multiple modes for the purposes of metrology: in this sense linear networks endowed with well-distributed quantum resources behave classically. Conversely, our bound shows that linear networks can achieve the Heisenberg limit for distributed metrology when the input photons are hoarded in a small number of input modes, and we present an explicit scheme for doing so. Our results also have implications for measures of non-classicality.

1 aGe, Wenchao1 aJacobs, Kurt1 aEldredge, Zachary1 aGorshkov, Alexey, V.1 aFoss-Feig, Michael uhttps://arxiv.org/abs/1707.06655