9 Lives or 20 Qubits, It’s Schrodinger’s Cat
Schrödinger’s cat with 20 qubits
+ Dead or alive, left-spinning or right-spinning—in the quantum world particles such as the famous analogy of Schrödinger’s cat can be all these things at the same time. An international team, including researchers from several leading American universities, together with experts from Forschungszentrum Jülich, have now succeeded in transforming 20 entangled quantum bits into such a state of superposition. The generation of such atomic Schrödinger cat states is regarded as an important step in the development of quantum computers which could outperform classical computers in solving certain tasks. The results were published in Science last Friday.
“Qubits in the cat state are considered extremely important for the development of quantum technologies,” explains Jian Cui. “The secret of the enormous efficiency and performance expected of future quantum computers is to be found in this superposition of states,” says the physicist from the Peter Grünberg Institute at Jülich (PGI-8).
+ In 1935, the physicist Erwin Schrödinger put forward the thought experiment with the quantum cat, in which the cat is enclosed in a box together with a radioactive sample, a detector and a lethal amount of poison. If the radioactive material decays, the detector triggers an alarm and the poison is released. The special feature is that according to the rules of quantum mechanics, unlike everyday experience, it is not clear whether the cat is dead or alive. It would be both at the same time until an experimenter takes a look. A single state would only be obtained starting from the time of this observation.
+ Of the latter states, scientists can now control more than 50 in laboratory experiments. However, these quantum bits, or qubits for short, do not display the special characteristics of Schrödinger’s cat in contrast to the 20 qubits that the team of researchers have now created using a programmable quantum simulator thus establishing a new record that is still valid even if other physical approaches with optical photons, trapped ions or superconducting quantum circuits are taken into account.
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