Quantum optical link sets new time records
Quantum communication could be an option for the absolutely secure transfer of data. The key component in quantum communication over long distances is the special phenomenon called entanglement between two atomic systems. Entanglement between two atomic systems is very fragile and up until now researchers have only been able to maintain the entanglement for a fraction of a second. But in new experiments at the Niels Bohr Institute researchers have succeeded in setting new records and maintaining the entanglement for up to an hour. The results are published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Entanglement is a curious phenomenon in quantum mechanics which Albert Einstein called ”spukhafte Fernwirkung” (spooky action at a distance). Two separate entangled systems have a ghostlike connection even when they are placed at a large distance without being directly connected to each other. It is said that their states are correlated. This means that if you read out the one system, the other system will ‘know’ about it. In the experiments at the Niels Bohr Institute, the spins of two gas clouds of caesium atoms are entangled.
Control of a spontaneous process
To create the entangled state of the two atomic clouds the researchers use light. Light consists of photons, which are the smallest parts (a quantum) of a light pulse. When you shine a laser beam on atoms the photons are absorbed and subsequently re-emitted spontaneously. This process has been an impediment to the experiments because it is uncontrolled.
"Now we have managed to control this ‘spontaneous’ process and use it”, explains Eugene Polzik, Professor and Director of the Danish National Research Foundation Center, Quantop at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.
(via Niels Bohr Institute - University of Copenhagen)