Experiment raises hopes we can soon create real quantum computers
From tunnelling through impenetrable barriers to being in two places at the same time, the quantum world of atoms and particlesis famously bizarre. Yet the strange properties of quantum mechanics are not mathematical quirks – they are real effects that have been seen in laboratories over and over.
One of the most iconic features of quantum mechanics is “entanglement” – describing particles that are mysteriously linked regardless of how far away from each other they are. Now three independent European research groups have managed to entangle not just a pair of particles, but separated clouds of thousands of atoms. They’ve also found a way to harness their technological potential.
When particles are entangled they share properties in a way that makes them dependent on each other, even when they are separated by large distances. Einstein famously called entanglement “spooky action at a distance”, as altering one particle in an entangled pair affects its twin instantaneously – no matter how far away it is.
While entanglement may sound wacky, experiments have been able to show that it exists for many years now. It also has the potential to be exceptionally useful – particles linked in this way can be used to transfer a particle’s quantum state, such as spin, from one location to another immediately (teleportation). They can also help store a huge amount of information in a given volume (super-dense coding).
Along with this storage capacity, entanglement can also help link and combine the computing power of systems in different parts of the globe. It is easy to see how that makes it a crucial aspect of quantum computation. Another promising avenue is truly secure communications. That’s because any attempt to interfere with systems involving entangled particles immediately disrupts the entanglement, making it obvious that a message has been tampered with.
See the full article here: The Independent UK