Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers create 'quantum cats' made of light

Date:
September 2, 2010
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
Researchers have created "quantum cats" made of photons, boosting prospects for manipulating light in new ways to enhance precision measurements as well as computing and communications based on quantum physics.

These colorized plots of electric field values indicate how closely the NIST "quantum cats" (left) compare with theoretical predictions for a cat state (right). The purple spots and alternating blue contrast regions in the center of the images indicate the light is in the appropriate quantum state.
Credit: Gerrits/NIST

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have created "quantum cats" made of photons (particles of light), boosting prospects for manipulating light in new ways to enhance precision measurements as well as computing and communications based on quantum physics.

Related Articles


The NIST experiments, described in a forthcoming paper, repeatedly produced light pulses that each possessed two exactly opposite properties -- specifically, opposite phases, as if the peaks of the light waves were superimposed on the troughs. Physicists call this an optical Schrödinger's cat. NIST's quantum cat is the first to be made by detecting three photons at once and is one of the largest and most well-defined cat states ever made from light. (Larger cat states have been created in different systems by other research groups, including one at NIST.)

A "cat state" is a curiosity of the quantum world, where particles can exist in "superpositions" of two opposite properties simultaneously. Cat state is a reference to German physicist Erwin Schrödinger's famed 1935 theoretical notion of a cat that is both alive and dead simultaneously.

"This is a new state of light, predicted in quantum optics for a long time," says NIST research associate Thomas Gerrits, lead author of the paper. "The technologies that enable us to get these really good results are ultrafast lasers, knowledge of the type of light needed to create the cat state, and photon detectors that can actually count individual photons."

The NIST team created their optical cat state by using an ultrafast laser pulse to excite special crystals to create a form of light known as a squeezed vacuum, which contains only even numbers of photons. A specific number of photons were subtracted from the squeezed vacuum using a device called a beam splitter. The photons were identified with a NIST sensor that efficiently detects and counts individual photons. Depending on the number of subtracted photons, the remaining light is in a state that is a good approximation of a quantum cat says Gerrits -- the best that can be achieved because nobody has been able to create a "real" one, by, for instance, the quantum equivalent to superimposing two weak laser beams with opposite phases.

NIST conducts research on novel states of light because they may enhance measurement techniques such as interferometry, used to measure distance based on the interference of two light beams. The research also may contribute to quantum computing -- which may someday solve some problems that are intractable today -- and quantum communications, the most secure method known for protecting the privacy of a communications channel. Larger quantum cats of light are needed for accurate information processing.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. Gerrits, S. Glancy, T. Clement , B. Calkins, A. Lita, A. Miller, A. Migdall, S.W. Nam, R. Mirin and E. Knill. Generation of optical coherent state superpositions by number-resolved photon subtraction from squeezed vacuum. Physical Review A, 2010; (forthcoming)

Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Researchers create 'quantum cats' made of light." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100901111632.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2010, September 2). Researchers create 'quantum cats' made of light. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100901111632.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Researchers create 'quantum cats' made of light." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100901111632.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Jaguar Land Rover Opens $800 Million Factory in Britain

Jaguar Land Rover Opens $800 Million Factory in Britain

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) — British luxury car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover opened a $800 million engine manufacturing centre in western England, creating 1,400 jobs. Duration: 00:45 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
SkyCruiser Concept Claims to Solve Problem With Flying Cars

SkyCruiser Concept Claims to Solve Problem With Flying Cars

Buzz60 (Oct. 30, 2014) — A start-up company called Krossblade says its SkyCruiser concept flying car solves the problem with most flying car concepts. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) — A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) — Dancing, spinning and fighting robots are showing off their agility at "Robocomp" in Krakow. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins