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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Light pulses in a quantum walk

The principle of quantum random motion in two dimensions: At a node, a light pulse can continue on its journey through a network of optical fibres in four directions: forwards, backwards, to the right or to the left. As a quantum object, it is in fact at all the locations that are on the possible routes to a destination. Credit: MPI for the Science of Light/University of Paderborn 
Tourists who drift aimlessly during a sightseeing tour are moving randomly - just like electrons that move from one atom to the next. To obtain a better understanding of these random motions it is often useful to reduce their complexity. Physicists do this by simulating random walks. These simulations can bring new insights in the quantum world as well. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light and the University of Paderborn and their colleagues are now the first to successfully realize an arrangement for a quantum walk in two dimensions. The experimental setup can be used to investigate many quantum phenomena.
in PhysOrg

Multidimensional quantum walks can exhibit highly nontrivial topological structure, providing a powerful tool for simulating quantum information and transport systems. We present a flexible implementation of a two-dimensional (2D) optical quantum walk on a lattice, demonstrating a scalable quantum walk on a nontrivial graph structure. We realized a coherent quantum walk over 12 steps and 169 positions using an optical fiber network. With our broad spectrum of quantum coins, we were able to simulate the creation of entanglement in bipartite systems with conditioned interactions. Introducing dynamic control allowed for the investigation of effects such as strong nonlinearities or two-particle scattering. Our results illustrate the potential of quantum walks as a route for simulating and understanding complex quantum systems.

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