This is how to test the limits of quantum mechanics

Scientists from Imperial College London and Lancaster University have recommended a new concept to trial and test the limits of applicability of quantum mechanics.

Quantum physics has long furnished humanity with an exquisite framework for knowing the microscopic world. Nevertheless, quantum phenomena do not live in our everyday lives.

Many component contribute to the shift between the quantum and classical regimes, but is there a key mechanism that answers in this  transition or shift? And how precisely does a wave function consisting of more than one possibilities collapse into one definite result?

The displacemon device consists of a mechanical resonator (red) which is coupled to a superconducting qubit (dark blue). As the resonator sweeps up and down it modifies the state of the superconducting qubit. Credit: Edward Laird

Many models, jointly referred to as objective-collapse hypothesis, have been suggested in the prospect of addressing these striking fundamental questions. But testing these theories are experimentally challenging.

Now a team of physicists have released a paper about a new method to analyse these objective-collapse theories in the laboratory.

The proposition is published in AVS Quantum Science.

The scientists' method takes advantage of the "displacemon," an electro-mechanical machine consisting of a mechanical resonator attached to superconducting qubit. By manipulating  the qubit, they suggest a method to examine for deviations from standard quantum theory in a way that could be explained by objective collapse.

Dr Edward Laird who leader of a research group in quantum electronic devices at Lancaster University says that, "the displacemon is not only a tool for testing fundamental quantum mechanics but may also be the basis of new sensing technologies. It will be tremendously exciting to do the first experiments with this device."

While there has been much advancement in restricting the strength of these models, further experiments are required to illuminate the quantum-to-classical limits.

"Indeed, these future experiments offer exciting promise to probe quantum mechanics at bigger and bigger scales," says Michael Vanner, Principal Investigator of the Quantum Measurement Lab at Imperial College London.

The displacemon gives a brand-new route to testing collapse models by leveraging experimental improvement made in cryogenics and superconducting technologies. Fundamental to the displacemon device is a mechanical resonator which swings up and down like a small guitar string and is united into a superconducting qubit. This broad motion interacts with a magnetic field in a way that joins the attributes of the qubit device and the resonator, with the action of one touching the other. The architecture of the device contributes itself well to creating a quantum superposition of the string vibrations.

More information: Lydia A. Kanari-Naish et al, Can the displacemon device test objective collapse models?, AVS Quantum Science (2021). DOI: 10.1116/5.0073626

Provided by Lancaster University 

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