Scientists have discovered a way to manipulate quantum light, using a technology that could facilitate advanced computers and quantum teleportation. By successfully creating superposed light beams, the researchers were able to produce a state that is both “on” and “off” at the same time.
Light beams that can be simultaneously on and off would be vital for the next-generation super computers. Using this new technology, computers could be much faster than current computers based on bits, which can only be either on or off.
As with other quantum discoveries involving light, the results of this experiment appear to be contradictory, and yet the phenomenon does somehow occur. Previously, only smaller light particles had been superposed, or in simultaneous multiple states.
The group of researchers from The University of Queensland and University of Paris South have proven a quantum physics theory known as “Schrödinger's cat”, named after a strange question posed by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger. He was praised by Einstein as being one of the few contemporary physicist “who sees that one cannot get around the assumption of reality”.
Schrödinger's cat is a famous illustration of the principle in quantum theory of superposition, proposed by Schrödinger in 1935. Schrödinger's cat analogy demonstrates the apparent conflict between what quantum theory tells us is true about the nature and behavior of matter on the microscopic level and what we observe to be true about the nature and behavior of matter on the macroscopic level.
This situation is also sometimes referred to as quantum indeterminacy or the observer's paradox: the observation or measurement itself affects an outcome, so that the outcome as such does not exist unless the measurement is made. (That is, there is no single outcome unless it is observed.)
Dr Hyunseok Jeong, a UQ Center for Quantum Computer Technology researcher, devised the scheme to generate and superpose the beams, which was tested and proved by his French collaborators. The group used special lasers, crystals, photon detectors, half-mirrors and other optical devices to generate and measure the superposition of light beams.
“It has been known to be extremely hard to generate Schrödinger cat states, particularly with traveling light,” Dr. Jeong said.
“Even though one could generate such Schrodinger cat states, it would be extremely hard to observe them because in a very short time, they would be reduced to either alive or dead states.”
Jeong says these research findings will help speed up the development of quantum information technologies such as quantum computers, quantum cryptography and quantum teleportation.
“Using Schrödinger cat states, quantum teleportation may be performed with nearly 100 percent success probability.”
Posted by Rebecca Sato
*This study can be found in the international journal NATURE.
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