Seeing the quantum future... literally

Seeing the quantum future... literally
Trapped Ytterbium ions were used as one of the most advanced laboratory quantum systems for this study. Professor Biercuk's research laboratories are now located in the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, after six years as a visiting scientist at the National Measurement Institute. Credit: University of Sydney.

Scientists at the University of Sydney have demonstrated the ability to "see" the future of quantum systems, and used that knowledge to preempt their demise, in a major achievement that could help bring the strange and powerful world of quantum technology closer to reality.

The applications of quantum-enabled technologies are compelling and already demonstrating significant impacts - especially in the realm of sensing and metrology. And the potential to build exceptionally powerful quantum computers using quantum bits, or qubits, is driving investment from the world's largest companies.

However a significant obstacle to building reliable quantum technologies has been the randomisation of by their environments, or decoherence, which effectively destroys the useful quantum character.

The physicists have taken a technical quantum leap in addressing this, using techniques from big data to predict how quantum systems will change and then preventing the system's breakdown from occurring.

The research is published today in Nature Communications.

"Much the way the individual components in mobile phones will eventually fail, so too do quantum systems," said the paper's senior author Professor Michael J. Biercuk.

"But in the lifetime is generally measured in fractions of a second, rather than years."

Professor Biercuk, from the University of Sydney's School of Physics and a chief investigator at the Australian Research Council's Centre for Engineered Quantum Systems, said his group had demonstrated it was possible to suppress decoherence in a preventive manner. The key was to develop a technique to predict how the system would disintegrate.

Professor Biercuk highlighted the challenges of making predictions in a quantum world: "Humans routinely employ predictive techniques in our daily experience; for instance, when we play tennis we predict where the ball will end up based on observations of the airborne ball," he said.

Seeing the quantum future... literally
University of Sydney Professor of Quantum Physics & Quantum Technology Michael Biercuk. Credit: University of Sydney

"This works because the rules that govern how the ball will move, like gravity, are regular and known. But what if the rules changed randomly while the ball was on its way to you? In that case it's next to impossible to predict the future behavior of that ball.

"And yet this situation is exactly what we had to deal with because the disintegration of quantum systems is random. Moreover, in the quantum realm observation erases quantumness, so our team needed to be able to guess how and when the system would randomly break.

"We effectively needed to swing at the randomly moving tennis ball while blindfolded."

The team turned to machine learning for help in keeping their quantum systems - qubits realised in trapped atoms - from breaking.

What might look like random behavior actually contained enough information for a computer program to guess how the system would change in the future. It could then predict the future without direct observation, which would otherwise erase the system's useful characteristics.

The predictions were remarkably accurate, allowing the team to use their guesses preemptively to compensate for the anticipated changes.

Doing this in real time allowed the team to prevent the disintegration of the quantum character, extending the useful lifetime of the qubits.

"We know that building real quantum technologies will require major advances in our ability to control and stabilise qubits - to make them useful in applications," Professor Biercuk said.

Our techniques apply to any qubit, built in any technology, including the special superconducting circuits being used by major corporations.

"We're excited to be developing new capabilities that turn quantum systems from novelties into useful technologies. The quantum future is looking better all the time," Professor Biercuk said.


Explore further

The exciting new age of quantum computing

More information: Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS14106
Journal information: Nature Communications

Citation: Seeing the quantum future... literally (2017, January 14) retrieved 19 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-01-quantum-future-literally.html
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.
1525 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jan 14, 2017
Our first glimpse at a Heisenberg compensator?

Jan 14, 2017
That DOI link is broken:http://dx.doi.org...MMS14106

Jan 14, 2017
Quite perceptive, Rich...

Jan 15, 2017
@retrosurf , it is because this article is not yet published in nature.com or maybe phys.org sees the future...

Jan 15, 2017
Sounds like we're working towards the first experimentally verifiable instance of precognition. I believe quantum entanglement and other as yet-to-be described quantum phenomena are the basis for this and other paranormal phenomena, ie telepathy, telekinesis and precognition. Our brains are the most sophisticated machines ever created from the stuff of the universe. Is it surprising that we can intuitively understand and employ fundamental forces of nature.

Jan 15, 2017
Very interesting. If a machine learning expert system can discern rules that give a high probability to predictions of quantum phenomena, it's apparent that there's a theoretical framework that can too.

I should note, this is not precognition, nor is it any indication of reverse-time quantum phenomena. It's just simple machine learning which converts big data on previous interactions into predictions of future behavior. Systems of this type can be used to probe for predictability, which can indicate the presence of physical theories that have not yet been discovered.

When we can deconstruct machine learned algorithms, we will have a powerful new tool to explore all sorts of scientific findings to propose hypotheses that can then be made to make new predictions, which allows them to be tested and shown to be theories. This is a powerful tool for exploration of, for example, new quantum physics in the strong/quark sector.

Jan 15, 2017
... It's just simple machine learning which converts big data on previous interactions into predictions of future behavior. Systems of this type can be used to probe for predictability, which can indicate the presence of physical theories that have not yet been discovered.

Which is kinda what our brain does instinctually, isn't it?
... This is a powerful tool for exploration of, for example, new quantum physics in the strong/quark sector.

I attempted a read of a random paper on CP violations in the quark sector
( www-pdg.lbl.gov/2015/reviews/rpp2015-rev-cp-violation.pdf ).
Got halfway thru the first paragraph and my "dys-left-ia" reared it's ugly head...
There HAS to be a simpler way of defining this.
I can see it in my head, but it avoids translation with a vengeance...

Jan 16, 2017
...Our brains are the most sophisticated machines ever created from the stuff of the universe. Is it surprising that we can intuitively understand and employ fundamental forces of nature.

Interesting choice of words - did you really intend to indicate that human beings are indeed created creatures?
Also, we do not intuitively understand - our brains were created to process the environment in a logical way. Logic by the way is an abstract entity that could not have arisen from any naturalistic / material causes - it had to have been created along with the mathematics that goes with it.

And of course the environment itself is perfectly amenable to a logical approach - which again indicates the presence of mind in its creation.....

Jan 16, 2017

When we can deconstruct machine learned algorithms

That's the real issue, though, with machine learning. You can always show that it works, but you can't really show why it works.
I.e. you can't transform the recognition task back into an 'easy' algorithm. Even in the instances where you can it's not apparent why the algorithm is the way it is. That's the problem with this top down approach.

Though that shouldn't stop us from using machine learning, as it is a very powerful approach. I was at a conference on medical image analysis late last year and almost all papers were using machine learning approaches and showing very good results.

Jan 18, 2017
...Our brains are the most sophisticated machines ever created from the stuff of the universe. Is it surprising that we can intuitively understand and employ fundamental forces of nature.

Interesting choice of words - did you really intend to indicate that human beings are indeed created creatures?
Also, we do not intuitively understand - our brains were created to process the environment in a logical way.

Wrong. Our brains EVOLVED to process the (evolving) environment in a logical way.
"Intuition" is (simply) the result of repeated processing (alternately viewed by Einstein as "prejudices acquired by the age of 18") - of the whole, huge panoply of environmental phenomenon.

Jan 19, 2017
Really!? The randomization is created with QM. Try a model using only diametrical spherical fields, DSFs. I would start at the atomic level. These structures have calculable modes based upon the applied energy. Isn't it time we recognize that the neutron is a pair of these DSFs.

But if you like the name quantum, of course the wave equation works, but com'on! We know better! Get real and throw away the jury rigged wave equation with quantum limitations for an absolute analysis.

Jan 23, 2017
Great! So the AIs are gonna control quantum computing before we do. :)

Jan 23, 2017
Great! So the AIs are gonna control quantum computing before we do. :)

Funny, you'll right, the name "Quantum" will probably remain. Since supposition applies everywhere, a model of the entire universe based upon light from an earthly sphere. The thing is there exist a lot of diametrical images; such as, a spherical fields update may be viewed prior to an update, or backwards in time relative to you. This is an observation of known transmitted wavelengths and transformation spatially, i.e. just think of it as you're either viewing from inside the sphere irradiated and your sphere is moving fast enough outwardly,to be able to intercept the transmitters sphere. Discussion?

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