Physicists find shortcut to quantum entanglement

Scientists has achieved a breakthrough in speeding up the generation of quantum entanglement, a puzzling phenomenon in quantum mechanics famously referred to as “spooky action at a distance” by Albert Einstein.

This group of researchers includes Kater Murch, the Charles M. Hohenberg Professor of Physics, along with Weijian Chen and Maryam Abbasi, both postdoctoral research associates in the Departments of Physics and Chemistry, respectively. Their groundbreaking work earned them the cover feature in Physical Review Letters.

Quantum entanglement has been a source of bewilderment for scientists and anyone delving into the realm of quantum physics ever since Einstein and his colleagues introduced the concept in the 1930s.

As Murch elucidates, in the quantum world, particles can exist in a “superposition,” which combines various states, such as an excited state and a ground state. This peculiar behavior becomes even more mystifying when considering the superposition of two particles.

Over time, particles in proximity can become entangled, meaning they will forever share corresponding states. While each particle on its own has an equal chance of being in an excited or ground state, when entangled, they mysteriously align their states.

In one mind-boggling scenario, if an entangled particle is discovered in the ground state, its entangled counterpart must instantaneously assume the excited state, even if it’s separated by vast distances. While this concept has been validated through experiments, it remains incredibly challenging to grasp. As Murch puts it, “It’s absolutely mind-blowing and it defies intuition.”

In their recent research, scientists employed theoretical models inspired by previous experiments to discover a shortcut to achieving entanglement. “By employing subtle quantum dynamics involving complex energies, we devised a method to entangle quantum systems far more rapidly than anticipated based on the strength of their interaction,” explained Murch.

This shortcut builds upon a discovery made back in 1998 by Carl Bender, the Konneker Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Physics, involving a unique type of quantum system capable of gaining and losing energy. These systems feature “exceptional points,” which are specific parameter points where the system’s relevant states overlap.

Murch, Chen, and their team established that particles become entangled much faster when an exceptional point is nearby. Chen remarked, “This model facilitates the entanglement of two weakly interacting particles.”

Any technique that accelerates the process of entanglement holds significant promise for applications in quantum computing and other emerging technologies. According to Murch, “When people discuss quantum technologies, they are primarily referring to the ability of quantum systems to become entangled. We are continuously exploring ways to deliberately entangle systems.”

These advancements align with the overarching mission of the Center for Quantum Leaps, a pivotal initiative outlined in the Arts & Sciences Strategic Plan. The center aims to leverage quantum insights and technologies across various fields, including physics, biomedical sciences, drug discovery, and more, with Murch serving as its co-director.

Source: Washington University in St. Louis

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