Yale Experiment Brings Quantum Computing One Step Closer

Yale researchers create a groundbreaking device that utilizes two key concepts in quantum physics.

Spooky Quantum Cats

A famous mind experiment by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger describes the existential mystery of a cat that is both alive and dead depending on whether you open the box where it sits with some things that can kill it. This strange thought has been used as a way to explain the paradox of quantum superposition, a key concept in quantum physics, which states that a particle can exist in many possible states at the same time and only measurement and observation will lock it into a particular state (like opening the box to see if the cat is alive or dead). And now this popular topic of mind-bending conversations has found a real-world application. Yale researchers made a device that shows that a particle can actually be in two states at once.


No, the device doesn't involve putting a cat in a box with poison and radioactive materials. Taking their cue from Schrödinger, the scientists are talking about a "cat state". They created a device where the "cat" lives or dies in two boxes at once, which combines the superposition paradox with another quantum concept  - "entanglement". The idea of "entanglement", which Einstein rather poetically called "spooky action at a distance", allows local observation of a state to instantaneously influence a distant object.

The Yale device is made of two 3D microwave cavities and a monitoring port, with everything connected by a superconducting, artificial atom. And the designated "cat" is actually a confined microwave light in both of the cavities.

One of the authors of the study, Yale postdoctoral associate Chen Wang, explained:

"This cat is big and smart. It doesn't stay in one box because the quantum state is shared between the two cavities and cannot be described separately. One can also take an alternative view, where we have two small and simple Schrodinger's cats, one in each box, that are entangled."

The researchers see the application of their findings to be in quantum computing, which promises much faster processing using quantum methods.

The "cat" states can help in increasing reliability and error correction.

Robert Schoelkopf, Sterling Professor of Applied Physics and Physics, and director of the Yale Quantum Institute, proposed that -

"It turns out 'cat' states are a very effective approach to storing quantum information redundantly, for implementation of quantum error correction. Generating a cat in two boxes is the first step towards logical operation between two quantum bits in an error-correctible manner."

Shoelkopf is one of the pioneers in the field of circuit quantum electrodynamics (cQED). His team added a number of new features to cQED architecture, including cylindrical 3D cavities that can store quantum information of more than 1 millisecond   in superconducting circuits, a field record. They also designed a measurement system that can monitor aspects of a quantum state in a precise, non-destructive way.

You can read the full study here in Science Magazine.

U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

U.S. Navy ships

Credit: Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
  • Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
  • While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
Keep reading Show less
  • As the material that makes all living things what/who we are, DNA is the key to understanding and changing the world. British geneticist Bryan Sykes and Francis Collins (director of the Human Genome Project) explain how, through gene editing, scientists can better treat illnesses, eradicate diseases, and revolutionize personalized medicine.
  • But existing and developing gene editing technologies are not without controversies. A major point of debate deals with the idea that gene editing is overstepping natural and ethical boundaries. Just because they can, does that mean that scientists should be edit DNA?
  • Harvard professor Glenn Cohen introduces another subcategory of gene experiments: mixing human and animal DNA. "The question is which are okay, which are not okay, why can we generate some principles," Cohen says of human-animal chimeras and arguments concerning improving human life versus morality.

Physicists push limits of Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

New studies stretch the boundaries of physics, achieving quantum entanglement in larger systems.

Entangled drumheads.

Credit: Aalto University.
Surprising Science
  • New experiments with vibrating drums push the boundaries of quantum mechanics.
  • Two teams of physicists create quantum entanglement in larger systems.
  • Critics question whether the study gets around the famous Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast