Keywords:geometric phase, quantum measurement back-action, weak value measurement
The state vector representing a quantum system acquires a phase factor following an adiabatic evolution along a closed trajectory in phase space. This is the traditional example of a geometric phase, or Pancharatnam–Berry phase, a concept that has now been generalized beyond cyclic adiabatic evolutions to include generalized quantum measurements. However, a clear description of the relationship between the emergence of a geometric phase and the effects of a series of generalized quantum measurements on a quantum system has not yet been provided. Here we report that a sequence of weak measurements with continuously variable measurement strengths in a quantum optics experiment conclusively reveals that the quantum measurement back-action is the source of the geometric phase.