University of Chicago physicists has developed a “quantum flute” that, like the Pied Piper, forces light particles to merge in a way that has never been seen before.

As explained in two studies published in Physical Review Letters and Nature Physics, success can point the way to access quantum memories or new types of error correction in quantum computers and look at quantum phenomena that are not visible in Nature.

Assoc. Prof. David Schuster works with quantum fragments — a quantum the equivalent of a computer bit — that intersect at the atomic level with the nuclear atom to make things impossible otherwise. In this experiment, they worked with light particles, known as photons, in a microwave spectrum.

Their system consists of a long hole made of a single metal block that traps photons in microwave frequencies. The fix is made by drilling offset holes — like flute holes.

“Like a musical instrument,” says Schuster, “you can send one or more wavelengths of photons to each object, and the length of each wavelength creates a ‘note’ that can be used to encode quantum information.” Researchers can control the interaction of “notes” using a master quantum bit, a superconducting electrical circuit.

But their strange discovery was the way photons behave together.

In Nature, photons never meet — they transcend one another. With careful preparation, scientists can sometimes move two photons to react to each other’s presence.

“Here we do something amazing,” Schuster said. “At first the photons do not combine at all, but when the full force in the system reaches the point of reduction, suddenly, they all speak to each other.”

Having so many photons “talking” to each other in a lab test is a bit weird; it’s like seeing a cat walk on its hind legs.

“Normally, multiple particles in one-on-one-two particles bounce or pull on their own,” Schuster said. “When you add a third, they usually still work in sequence with one or the other. But this system has all the interactions at once.”

Their experiments only tested five “notes” at a time, but scientists could eventually consider using hundreds or thousands of notes in one qubit to control them. With a complex task like a quantum computer, engineers want to simplify everything they can; Schuster said: “If you wanted to build a 1,000-bit quantum computer and you could control them all little by little, that would be invaluable.”

Researchers are also pleased with the behavior itself. No one has ever seen anything like this interaction in Nature, so researchers hope these findings may help compare complex events that are not even seen here on Earth, including perhaps even one of the physics of black holes.

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Alice is the Chief Editor with relevant experience of three years, Alice has founded Galaxy Reporters. She has a keen interest in the field of science. She is the pillar behind the in-depth coverages of Science news. She has written several papers and high-level documentation.


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