Quantum cat's 'whiskers' offer advanced sensors

Apr 24, 2009
Quantum cat's 'whiskers' offer advanced sensors
Illustration of quantum cat - a quantum system with two extreme states.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A team led by Oxford University scientists has turned one of the key problems with quantum entangled systems - that they are easily ‘disturbed’ by their environment - into an advantage which promises quantum sensors that are fundamentally more sensitive than their conventional counterparts.

Scientists attempting to build quantum computers have long been frustrated by the way that quantum entangled systems suffer from ‘interference’ from their surroundings. But now the Oxford-led team report online in this week’s Science that they have found a way to harness this sensitivity to create a system that responds to extremely weak magnetic fields - technology with potential applications in areas such as geological surveying.

The team built their system to exploit what is known as a ‘Shrödinger cat state’ named after the famous thought experiment by physicist Erwin Shrödinger: To show how the quantum world could affect our world Shrödinger imagined placing a cat in a sealed box with a lethal mechanism controlled by a random quantum event determining whether the cat was alive or dead. makes the remarkable prediction that until the box is opened the cat is both alive and dead. In the case of the Oxford work instead of all the molecules of a real cat being either alive or dead the ‘quantum cat’ is based on the nuclear spins of a molecule, trimethlyphosphite (TMP), being either ‘up’ or ‘down’.

‘To create our ‘quantum cat’ we took a star-shaped molecule with one central atom and nine atoms surrounding and applied pulses to put it into an entangled state where all ten spins are spinning one way (‘alive’) and the other way (‘dead’) at the same time,’ said Dr John Morton of Oxford University’s Department of Materials, an author of the paper. ‘We found that compared to a non-entangled system our cat was many times more sensitive to the presence of a very weak .’

Other proposed quantum-enhanced sensor systems use photons instead of nuclear spins to sense other physical quantities such as distance.

‘We are looking to turn experimental quantum systems into real world technology that people can use,’ said Professor Jonathan Jones of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, an author of the paper. ‘The next step is to investigate how a quantum sensor based on this work might be combined with existing sensors based on magnetic resonance.’

Such sensors are towed across the ocean floor looking for tiny, previously undetectable, telltale fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field which might suggest untapped reserves of gas or oil.

‘Many researchers try to make quantum states that are robust against their environment,’ said team member Dr Simon Benjamin of Oxford University’s Department of Materials, ‘but we went the other way and deliberately created the most fragile states possible.’

Provided by Oxford University (news : web)

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User comments : 11

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wsbriggs
1 / 5 (5) Apr 24, 2009
It would be nice if a science website could spell a major physicist's name correctly. It's Schroedinger.
freemind
3 / 5 (4) Apr 24, 2009
In German, his original language, it is Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger. (see http://de.wikiped...ödinger )

You probably refer to English interpretation of his name, particularly to ö sound.
freemind
1 / 5 (1) Apr 24, 2009
damn, the link is bloken, just google for Schrödinger
sirdrinkalot
1 / 5 (2) Apr 24, 2009
wsbriggs: it would be nice if you knew what you was talking about. Shrödinger is ofcourse right!
Dhanne
1 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2009
I'm a bit annoyed about some people who doesn't use/know/care äs,ås, and ös. It's disrespectful to write the names with special letters wrong. For example Kimi Räikkönen (a famous Finnish Formula 1 driver) is too often written like Raikkonen or Raekkoenen. In the same way, it's Shrödinger, not Schroedinger or Schrodinger.
KBK
3 / 5 (2) Apr 26, 2009
OK, smarty pants..then tell us how to get these special characters to pop out of our windows PC systems on regular American keyboards and American character sets....mmmkkk?

I know that it's called an 'umlaut', but how to make it appear on our character sets, is the issue.
Dhanne
2 / 5 (2) Apr 26, 2009
How to add special characters on American keyboards:

1. Make sure the NUM LOCK is on.
2. Hold down the ALT-key, and then, by using the numeric keypad (on the right), type the character code. Then, release the ALT-key.

Alt Key codes:
ALT 0229 = å
ALT 0197 = Å

ALT 0228 = ä
ALT 0196 = Ä

ALT 0246 = ö
ALT 0214 = Ö

ALT 0156 = %u0153
ALT 0140 = %u0152

ALT 0230 = æ
ALT 0198 = Æ

ALT 0248 = ø
ALT 0216 = Ø
ScottyB
3 / 5 (4) Apr 27, 2009
.....is this really important? I like how no one has made a relevant comment on the article. I dont think it really matters weather the umlaut's are there or not, as long as everyone is aware of who Schroedinger is.
Justavian
1.5 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2009
It's called transliteration, and it's totally valid. There are rules which determine how words and sounds from other languages are written with English character sets. Think of languages like Russian. Would it be valid for me to get angry over seeing "Dostoyevsky" instead of "%u0414%u043E%u0441%u0442%u043E%u0435%u0432%u0441%u043A%u0438%u0439" when reading an English website? I'm sure that 90% of the people in the English speaking world wouldn't even know how to pronounce it if it were written in Cyrillic. The same is true for other languages, even if they use MOSTLY the same character set...
Justavian
1 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2009
Hahah... i guess i proved my own point there. This site doesn't even ALLOW Cyrillic. It let me type it in, but apparently would prefer to not display it in the final comment.
ScottyB
2 / 5 (4) May 06, 2009
Yet again, another comment about language and NOTHING to do with MESSAGE of teh article.

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