And then there was Quantum

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SO WHAT IS QUANTUM ANYWAY?

Quantum is the Latin word for amount and, in modern understanding, means the smallest possible discrete unit of any physical property, such as energy or matter.

AND WHAT’S IT GOOD FOR?

Super-powerful computers, personalized medicine, entanglement enhanced microscopes, biological compasses, molecular imaging, uncrackable codes…

Our Quantum Future(s) Encryption, security, machine learning, medicine, all the way to inconceivable personal gadgets, could harness the power of quantum mechanics. The coming technological shift is set to be as momentous as the invention of the microprocessor.

Taking advantage of counter-intuitive effects like quantum superposition and quantum entanglement, quantum computers have the potential to enable us to develop a radically new type of computation that could solve problems that would take conventional computers literally centuries to crunch.

 Asst. Prof. Netanel Lindner
Asst. Prof. Netanel
Lindner

In quantum systems, explains Asst. Prof. Netanel Lindner at the Faculty of Physics, the classical “Bit” at the core of a processor is either 1 or 0, or “false” or “true.” A quantum bit, or qubit, is not confined to two possibilities only, but can also exist in superpositions. That is, it can be both 1 and 0 at the same time. Quantum computers employ such superpositions to perform their specialized algorithms.

“The problem is, how to try and probe quantum mechanics on large scales,” says Lindner. “Quantum effects are fragile. In a machine with lots of qubits, the quantum effects degrade quickly, and the machine becomes a conventional device that behaves in accordance with classical physics. Yet we need a large number of qubits in order to perform useful computations. The moment the outside world becomes correlated with the system, the quantum effects are washed out.”

“The problem is, how to try and probe Quantum Mechanics on large scales.” – Asst. Prof. Netanel Lindner

Systems with many degrees of freedom are in danger of being fragile. One challenge is to first understand what quantum effects are possible to observe in actual materials and then how to get materials to exhibit these quantum effects.”

Commentators are expecting dramatic manifestations of the quantum shift in science and technology. Yet it involves some high priests of physics having the freedom, space and time to contemplate a whole new mind frame, one which can be at first counter-intuitive. “It’s a very subtle science,” smiles Netanel.

“Because it’s not part of our daily experience. We tend to experience everything according to classical physics and classical logic. We’re used to experiencing the world in a certain way but the quantum rules are different. If we were to experience quantum effects on a daily basis, it would be more intuitive. We don’t yet understand the full scope of the applications of quantum science, but the quantum shift at Technion is the next frontier of scientific research and future technology.”

Campus-wide activity in quantum engineering at Technion, led by Prof. Gadi Eisenstein, encompasses the Faculties of Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Medicine.

PR1-2Technion and Quantum Engineering:

  • Peres-Horodecki criterion for quantum entanglement
  • Co-founder of quantum teleportation concept
  • First demonstrations of entangled photon emissions  from a semiconductor device
  • First observation of self-amplifying Hawking radiation  in an analogue black-hole laser
  • Invention of second-order medical optical coherence  tomography by “second-order quantum correlations”
  • Extreme performance of the quantum-dash – quantum  dot lasers for high-speed performance
  • Co-discovery of the 1/3 and 1/5 fractional charge in  the quantum Hall effect
  • Development of a room temperature quantum light source Novel quantum communications scheme: “Classical Alice”  reducing the operational complexity of more conventional  quantum communications systems
  • Realization of a quantum bit based on quantum dots with  universal quantum gate operations
  • Creation of an X-ray laser based on non-Hermitian  quantum mechanics rules
  • Quantum interference effect (STIRAP) led to a Technion based start-up company
  • First quantum cascade detector in GaN material presented  and measured
  • Improvement of medical MRI performance by a  “quantum cooling algorithm”

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Illustration: Guy Nawy
Illustration: Guy Nawy