Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Can we peek at Schrödinger's cat without disturbing it?

02.10.2019

Researchers describe a way of measuring a quantum system while keeping its superposition intact

Quantum physics is difficult and explaining it even more so. Associate Professor Holger F. Hofmann from Hiroshima University and Kartik Patekar from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay have tried to solve one of the biggest puzzles in quantum physics: how to measure the quantum system without changing it?


Since the cat in the box (top left) is in a superposition that means it can be in numerous different states (e.g. dead and/or alive) and is marked with a quantum tag. The photo taken of the cat is entangled with the situation inside of the box. We can decide the fate of the cat by processing the photo in a certain way (bottom left), or we can keep it in superposition by restoring the quantum tag using a different process (bottom right).

Credit: Associate Professor Holger F. Hofmann and Emma Buchet/Hiroshima University

Their new paper published this month has found that by reading the information observed from a quantum system away from the system itself researchers can determine its state, depending on the method of analysis.

Although the analysis is completely removed from the quantum system, it is possible to restore the initial superposition of possible outcomes by a careful reading of the quantum data.

"Normally we would search for something by looking. But in this case looking changes the object, this is the problem with quantum mechanics. We can use complicated maths to describe it, but how can we be sure that the mathematics describes what is really there? When we measure something there is a trade-off and the other possibilities of what it could be are lost. You cannot find out about anything without an interaction, you pay a price in advance." explains Hofmann.

During Patekar's month-long stay at Hiroshima University when he was an undergraduate student, the two physicists tried to imagine ways of measuring the system without "paying the price" i.e. keeping the system's superposition or meaning that the system can exist in all states. In order to understand their results Hofmann describes their findings using the well-known physics story of Schrödinger's cat:

Schrödinger's cat is in a box and the scientists don't know whether it is dead or alive. A camera is set up looking into the box that takes a photo from a position outside of the box. The photo taken of the cat comes out blurry; we can see there is a cat but not whether it is dead or alive.

The flash from the camera has also removed a "quantum tag" marking the superposition of the cat. This photo is now entangled with the fate of the cat i.e. we can decide what happened to the cat by processing this photo in a certain way.

The photo could then be taken away from the box and processed on a computer or in a darkroom. Depending on what method is used to process the photo, we can find out either if the cat is alive or dead, or what the flash did to the cat, restoring the quantum tag.

The choice of the reader determines what we know about the cat. We can find out if it's dead/alive or restore the quantum tag that was removed when the picture was taken, but not both.

This is only a step forward in our understanding of quantum mechanics. Today its full application remains confined to expert-level systems like quantum computers, although some of its aspects can also be used in precise measurements, and for secure communication using quantum cryptography.

"This is a key part of my research. I really wanted to understand why this quantum weirdness is there. I focused on measurements because that's where the weirdness comes from!" says Hofmann.

Norifumi Miyokawa | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1367-2630/ab4451

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Double layer of graphene helps to control spin currents
18.10.2019 | University of Groningen

nachricht Analysis of Galileo's Jupiter entry probe reveals gaps in heat shield modeling
17.10.2019 | American Institute of Physics

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Solving the mystery of quantum light in thin layers

A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)

It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...

Im Focus: An ultrafast glimpse of the photochemistry of the atmosphere

Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.

The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...

Im Focus: Shaping nanoparticles for improved quantum information technology

Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.

Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...

Im Focus: Novel Material for Shipbuilding

A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.

The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...

Im Focus: Controlling superconducting regions within an exotic metal

Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

NEXUS 2020: Relationships Between Architecture and Mathematics

02.10.2019 | Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Energy Flow in the Nano Range

18.10.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

MR-compatible Ultrasound System for the Therapeutic Application of Ultrasound

18.10.2019 | Medical Engineering

Double layer of graphene helps to control spin currents

18.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>