New 'quantum distillation' method allows measuring coherence of quantum states

New “quantum distillation” method allows measuring coherence of quantum states

One of the main principles of quantum physics is the superposition of states. Systems exist simultaneously in different states until they are measured and the system opts for one of the possibilities. As long as the superposition lasts, the system is said to be in a coherent state. In real systems, sets of diverse elemental particles or atoms exist in a state of superposition, for example, in different positions simultaneously, with different levels of energy, or with two opposite spin orientations. These have weak coherence—the superposition is broken easily by the vibrations associated with temperature and the interactions with the environment.

In the scientific article, researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Department of Physics Andreas Winter and Dong Yang propose a groundbreaking method to measure the degree of coherence in any given quantum state. The researchers created simple formulas to calculate how much "pure coherence" is contained in a given quantum state by answering two fundamental questions: How efficiently can one transform the state into "pure coherence?" And how efficient is the reverse process?

"At first, the must be distilled. We must see how much coherence can be extracted from it," explains Andreas Winter. "Later, it once again forms a noisy state in which the coherence is diluted."

The distillation and dilution process allows measuring the strength of coherence of the initial state of with experiments tailored to each particular case. This is an outstanding contribution to the study of , given that "traditionally, to measure the degree of coherence of a superposition, it was necessary to measure the visibility of interference fringes, linked to standardised experiments," Winter says. "With our approach, the experiment can be adapted to every state in order to make the manifest itself better."

Explore further

Physicists find quantum coherence and quantum entanglement are two sides of the same coin

More information: Andreas Winter et al. Operational Resource Theory of Coherence, Physical Review Letters (2016). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.120404
Journal information: Physical Review Letters

Citation: New 'quantum distillation' method allows measuring coherence of quantum states (2016, March 31) retrieved 24 February 2020 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments