Measuring quantum information without destroying it

January 15, 2009 By Miranda Marquit, feature

( -- One of the Holy Grails - so to speak - of science involves building quantum computers that can perform, with accuracy, the computations too advanced and too large for classical computers. While we remain years from this goal, breakthroughs are made regularly that make the reality of quantum computing a little more tangible. One such advancement is a recent demonstration of a quantum non-demolition sum gate, at the University of Tokyo.

The gate demonstrated in Tokyo is for use in quantum optics, but it is analogous to the C-not gate used for qubits. One of the prominent features of this gate, Peter van Loock, a scientist associated with the Max Planck Institute For The Science of Light and with the University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany, tells, is that it is meant for infinite dimensions described by continuous quantum variables. “In quantum optics, there are nice techniques in the lab that can be done with continuous variables,” he says. “This gate can be seen as part of a universal set to transform a multi-mode, infinite-dimensional, optical state by an arbitrary unitary transformation, as required for universal processing and computation.”

Work on the quantum non-demolition (QND) sum gate, and interpretation of the results, was done by Jun-ichi Yoshikawa, Yoshichika Miwa, Alexander Huch, Ulrik L. Anderson and Akira Furusawa, as well as van Loock. Their findings can be found in Physical Review Letters: “Demonstration of a Quantum Nondemolition Sum Gate.”

“There are two main significances of this QND gate,” van Loock explains. “The first is that it is an entangling gate that does not require you to prepare the states. Second, this gate has the properties of quantum non-demolition.”

Most of the time, when one wants to entangle quantum optical modes, van Loock says, it is necessary to prepare their states beforehand. “These cannot be classical, or near-classical, states when you entangle them, for instance, using a simple beam splitter. However, with this particular gate, you do not have to prepare the states in order to get an entangled output. You can use coherent states as input and get entanglement. This gate would entangle even two fairly classical states directly coming out of a laser source.”

The other item of significance has to do with the curious non-demolition quality of the gate. Normally, when quantum states are measured, the act of observing them destroys the state. The point of QND, then, is to measure a quantum observable without disturbing it. “The necessary back action of the measurement process must then be confined onto the conjugate quantum observable,” van Loock points out. “Qualities of quantum non-demolition include information gain, signal preservation and quantum state preparation. This sum gate reveals QND features, even with regard to two non-commuting observables. Either of these could be measured after the gate in a QND fashion, with the two output modes of the gate palying the roles of signal and probe.”

Possible applications for a QND sum gate are being explored, reports van Loock. He mentions that right now, this gate is more of a technical tool - contributing to experimental knowledge of fundamental quantum physics. However, van Loock sees the possibilities for the future. He points out that the QND sum gate, though initially intended for continuous variables, could be applied to discrete superposition states such as photonic qubits. “In particular,” van Look continues, “with the current indirect implementation where the experimentally hardest part of the gate need not be directly applied to the fragile input states.”

Van Loock seems rather interested in the idea of cluster-state computation and merging Gaussian and non-Gaussian states. “It would be exciting to merge continuous cluster-state computation and discrete qubit encoding using this QND sum gate. It might be applied to merge Gaussian and non-Gaussian worlds, obtaining the highest efficiency possible,” van Loock says. “We would not have to focus only on continuous variables or only on discrete qubit approaches. This gate has the potential to combine the two. It’s a hybrid feature.”

More information: Yoshikawa, et. al. “Demonstration of a Quantum Nondemolition Sum Gate.” Physical Review Letters (2008). Available online:

Copyright 2007
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of

Explore further: 'Fibonacci quasiparticle' could form basis of future quantum computers

Related Stories

When noise becomes the signal

March 24, 2010

( -- European researchers have developed a new class of electronics that uses noise -- normally a problem -- as part of the signal. It means better, faster electronics.

Recommended for you

Physicists reveal why matter dominates universe

March 21, 2019

Physicists in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University have confirmed that matter and antimatter decay differently for elementary particles containing charmed quarks.

ATLAS experiment observes light scattering off light

March 20, 2019

Light-by-light scattering is a very rare phenomenon in which two photons interact, producing another pair of photons. This process was among the earliest predictions of quantum electrodynamics (QED), the quantum theory of ...

How heavy elements come about in the universe

March 19, 2019

Heavy elements are produced during stellar explosion or on the surfaces of neutron stars through the capture of hydrogen nuclei (protons). This occurs at extremely high temperatures, but at relatively low energies. An international ...

Trembling aspen leaves could save future Mars rovers

March 18, 2019

Researchers at the University of Warwick have been inspired by the unique movement of trembling aspen leaves, to devise an energy harvesting mechanism that could power weather sensors in hostile environments and could even ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2009
%u201CThis gate can be seen as part of a universal set to transform a multi-mode, infinite-dimensional, optical state by an arbitrary unitary transformation, as required for universal processing and computation.%u201D

I have no idea what this means, but it sounds totally awesome!
5 / 5 (1) Jan 15, 2009
Might want to visit this website for more info.


5 / 5 (1) Jan 15, 2009
Quantum logic gates, the act of observation doesn't destroy memory but keeps it able to be read, and on the spot entanglement is what this article is about. Computers use a set of logic gates to do computations. It's actually written into the code in fact. With quantum computing the biggest difficulty is in creating the tools for a quantum computer to work. The creation of logic gates like that achieve the results are essentially like stars in an area of blank space. They allow things that we previously could not do before. The second half however is Van Loock's hope to help create a system that uses both magnetic, and non-magnetic systems to help in cluster computation.

In other words we are one step closer to a quantum computer than we were before.

The first was experimental, the second proved weak-observation doesn't destroy information, and the third is creation of systems that allow for true quantum computing. The third and others are still a work in progress, but they bring us just a little closer to our final goal.
not rated yet Jan 24, 2009
By AWT the particles of reality are formed by nested density fluctuations of hypothetical particle field, so called an Aether. The measurement mean, the surface undulations of particles will get synchronized with those of observer (i.e. entangled), so that the relative component of mutual motion dissapears (collapse of wave function).

The weak measurement would mean, only undulations on certain level of nested density fluctuations will get synchronized.

For example, it's quite probable, if we succeede in particle localization by it's own gravity field at distance, such subtle observation wouldn't affect the actual particle spin or other basic properties at all, which would allow deterministic intepretation of quantum mechanics - at least up to certain level. Of course, such experiment would violate the main principle of quantum cryptography.

Was such explanation clear for you? For another reading.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.