Both in order to obtain an ever better understanding of quantum physics and to solve problems in quantum information theory, there is continued interest in the exploration of the classical-quantum boundary and the identification of those quantum states exhibiting specifically quantum features, such as coherence and interference that cannot be explained with classical mechanics and/or classical probability theory.
We introduce, for each state of a bosonic quantum field, its quadrature coherence scale (QCS), a measure of the range of its quadrature coherences. Under coupling to a thermal bath, the purity and QCS are shown to decrease on a timescale inversely proportional to the QCS squared. The states most fragile to decoherence are therefore those with quadrature coherences far from the diagonal. We further show a large QCS is difficult to measure since it induces small scale variations in the state’s Wigner function. These two observations imply a large QCS constitutes a mark of “macroscopic coherence.” Finally, we link the QCS to optical classicality: optical classical states have a small QCS and a large QCS implies strong optical nonclassicality.