What if quantum physics worked on a macroscopic level?

July 25, 2013

Quantum physics concerns a world of infinitely small things. But for years, researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, have been attempting to observe the properties of quantum physics on a larger scale, even macroscopic. In January 2011, they managed to entangle crystals, therefore surpassing the atomic dimension. Now, Professor Nicolas Gisin's team has successfully entangled two optic fibers, populated by 500 photons. Unlike previous experiments which were carried out with the fiber optics of one photon, this new feat (which has been published in Nature Physics) begins to answer a fundamental question: can quantum properties survive on a macroscopic level?

For thirty years, physicists have been able to entangle photon pairs (particles of light). Thus, an action on the first particle will have an instant impact on the second, regardless of the distance and the obstacles between them. It occurs as if it were one single photon present at two different places. With this feat in mind, one question remains: can larger elements be entangled on a macroscopic level?

It would seem intuitive to think that the rules of physics that apply at the would be transferable to the macroscopic world. However, attempts to prove this have not been easy. In fact, when the size of a increases, it interacts more and more with its surrounding environment, which rapidly destroys its quantum properties. This phenomenon, known as , is one of the limitations on the capability of macroscopic systems to retain their quantum properties.

From micro to macroscopic

Despite these limitations, and due to technological advances, scientists from UNIGE's Faculty of Science were able to entangle two fiber optics populated by 500 photons, unlike those that were previously entangled to only one photon.

To do this, the team led by Nicolas Gisin, professor in the Physics Section, created an entanglement between two on a microscopic level before moving it to the macroscopic level. The entangled state survived the transition to a larger-scale world and the phenomenon could even be observed with the traditional means of detection, i.e. practically with the naked eye.

In order to verify that the entanglement survived in the , the physicists reconverted the phenomenon at the microscopic level.

"This first large-scale experiment paves the way for many applications that quantum physics offers. The entanglement at the macroscopic level is one of the main research areas in the field, and we hope to entangle increasingly large objects in the years to come," said Professor Gisin.

Explore further: Two crystals linked by quantum physics

Related Stories

Two crystals linked by quantum physics

March 5, 2012

Physicists take a perverse pleasure in playing with the strangeness of the quantum world. That's how they have managed to entangle minuscule objects such as photons. After specific manipulations, they persuade two photons ...

World record for the entanglement of twisted light quanta

November 2, 2012

(Phys.org)—The Vienna research team led by Anton Zeilinger has achieved a new milestone in the history of quantum physics: The scientists were able to generate and measure the entanglement of the largest quantum numbers ...

Recommended for you

Quantum internet goes hybrid

November 22, 2017

In a recent study published in Nature, ICFO researchers led by ICREA Prof. Hugues de Riedmatten report an elementary "hybrid" quantum network link and demonstrate photonic quantum communication between two distinct quantum ...

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

November 22, 2017

Researchers have discovered that dense ensembles of quantum spins can be created in diamond with high resolution using an electron microscopes, paving the way for enhanced sensors and resources for quantum technologies.

Study shows how to get sprayed metal coatings to stick

November 21, 2017

When bonding two pieces of metal, either the metals must melt a bit where they meet or some molten metal must be introduced between the pieces. A solid bond then forms when the metal solidifies again. But researchers at MIT ...

Imaging technique unlocks the secrets of 17th century artists

November 21, 2017

The secrets of 17th century artists can now be revealed, thanks to 21st century signal processing. Using modern high-speed scanners and the advanced signal processing techniques, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (13) Jul 25, 2013
"This first large-scale experiment paves the way for many applications that quantum physics offers. The entanglement at the macroscopic level is one of the main research areas in the field, and we hope to entangle increasingly large objects in the years to come," said Professor Gisin.

It seems impossible to entangle for large objects such as gun's bullet, unless its moving could create a co-moving wave (wave –particle, like electron) which is the basic property of quantum mechanics…
1 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2013
On a really macro level, if two universes (universi?) were entangled, would the appearance of observers in one of them be a cause of decoherance? Before that happened, maybe everything would have existed it both universe.
1 / 5 (5) Jul 25, 2013
Seems like this phenomenon may yield an explanation for love. Not joking!
3.3 / 5 (3) Jul 25, 2013
quantum physics on the macroscale? how about superfluids? lets be honest superfluids are known to do some pretty weird things in comparison to everyday fluids such as air and water
1 / 5 (9) Jul 28, 2013
If quantum physics worked on the macro level, then PETA would never be able to tell if the cats were all dead unless they opened the oven.

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.