Until recently measuring a 27-dimensional quantum state would have been a time-consuming, multistage process using a technique called quantum tomography, which is similar to creating a 3D image from many 2D ones.
Researchers at the University of Rochester have been able to apply a recently developed, alternative method called direct measurement to do this in a single experiment with no post-processing.
The work is of interest because fast, accurate and efficient methods for characterizing high-dimensional states like this could be central in developing high security quantum communications systems, as well as to probe our fundamental understanding of quantum mechanics.
The work was published this week in Nature Communications by a team of researchers from the University of Rochester and the University of Glasgow. In the paper they demonstrate direct measurements of the quantum state associated with the orbital-angular momentum.
"Our work shows that direct measurement offers an exciting alternative to quantum tomography," said Robert Boyd, Professor of Optics and Physics at the
University of Rochester and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Quantum Nonlinear Optics at the University of Ottawa. "As the field of quantum information continues to advance, we expect direct measurement to play an increasingly important role in this." Boyd added that although it is unclear exactly how much more efficient direct measurement is compared to quantum tomography, the lack of post-processing is a major factor in speeding-up direct measurements.
The direct measurement technique offers a way to directly determine the state of a quantum system. It was first developed in 2011 by scientists at the National Research Council Canada, who used it to determine the position and momentum of photons. Last year, a group of Rochester/Ottawa researchers led by Boyd showed that direct measurement could be applied to measure the polarization states of light. The new paper is the first time this method has been applied to a discrete, high dimensional system.
Such direct measurements of the wavefunction might have appeared to be ruled out by the uncertainty principle – the idea that certain properties of a quantum system could be known with precision only if other properties were known poorly. However, direct measurement involves a "trick" that makes it possible.
Direct measurements consists of two types of measurements performed one after the other, first a "weak" measurement followed by a "strong" measurement. In quantum mechanics the act of measuring a quantum state disturbs it irreversibly, a phenomenon referred to as collapse of the wavefunction. The trick lies with the first measurement being so gentle that it only slightly disturbs the system and does not cause the wavefunction to collapse.
"It is sort of like peeking into the box to see if Schrodinger's cat is alive, without fully opening the box," said lead author Dr. Mehul Malik, currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Vienna and who was a Ph.D. in Boyd's group when the work was performed. "The weak measurement is essentially a bad measurement, which leaves you mostly uncertain about whether the cat is alive or dead. It does, however¬, give partial information on the health of the cat, which when repeated many times can lead to near certain information as to whether the cat is alive or dead." Malik adds that the beauty of the weak measurement is that it does not destroy the system, unlike most standard measurements of a quantum system, allowing a subsequent measurement—the "strong" measurement of the other variable.
This sequence of weak and strong measurements is then repeated for multiple identically prepared quantum systems, until the wave function is known with the required precision.
Ph.D. student Mohammad Mirhosseini was also part of the Rochester team. Other collaborators included Professor Miles Padgett and Martin Lavery from the University of Glasgow, UK, and Dr. Jonathan Leach, from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK.
About the University of Rochester
The University of Rochester is one of the nation's leading private universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University gives students exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by its Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, and the Memorial Art Gallery.
Leonor Sierra | EurekAlert!
Scientists take nanoparticle snapshots
11.02.2016 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
New paths for generation of ultracold molecules
11.02.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
Today, plants and microorganisms are heavily used for the production of medicinal products. The production of biopharmaceuticals in plants, also referred to as “Molecular Pharming”, represents a continuously growing field of plant biotechnology. Preferred host organisms include yeast and crop plants, such as maize and potato – plants with high demands. With the help of a special algal strain, the research team of Prof. Ralph Bock at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam strives to develop a more efficient and resource-saving system for the production of medicines and vaccines. They tested its practicality by synthesizing a component of a potential AIDS vaccine.
The use of plants and microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals is nothing new. In 1982, bacteria were genetically modified to produce human insulin, a drug...
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock...
The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.
Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...
Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.
The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
09.02.2016 | Event News
02.02.2016 | Event News
26.01.2016 | Event News
11.02.2016 | Life Sciences
11.02.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
11.02.2016 | Earth Sciences