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Mapping the optimal route between two quantum states
Date:8/1/2014

by Chapman University's Yakir Aharonov.

"Everybody knows that if your only tool is a hammer, then you tend to treat everything as if it were a nail" says Prof. Jeff Tollaksen, Director of Chapman's Institute for Quantum Studies. "But a whole new world opens up when we make weak measurements."

Jordan compares the experiment to watching butterflies make their way one by one from a cage to nearby trees.

"Each butterfly's path is like a single run of the experiment," said Jordan. "They are all starting from the same cage, the initial state, and ending in one of the trees, each being a different end state."

By watching the quantum equivalent of a million butterflies make the journey from cage to tree, the researchers were in effect able to predict the most likely path a butterfly took by observing which tree it landed on (known as post-selection in quantum physics measurements), despite the presence of a wind, or any disturbance that affects how it flies (which is similar to the effect measuring has on the system).

"The experiment demonstrates that for any choice of final quantum state, the most likely or 'optimal path' connecting them in a given time can be found and predicted," said Jordan. "This verifies the theory and opens the way for active quantum control techniques."

He explained that only if you know the most likely path is it possible to set up the system to be in the desired state at a specific time.


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Contact: Sheri Ledbetter
sledbett@chapman.edu
714-289-3143
Chapman University
Source:Eurekalert  

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