Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Quantum electrodynamics


Quantum annealing is a combinatorial optimization technique inspired by quantum mechanics. Here we show that a spin model for the k-coloring of large dense random graphs can be field tuned so that its acceptance ratio diverges during Monte Carlo quantum annealing, until a ground state is reached. We also find that simulations exhibiting such a diverging acceptance ratio are generally more effective than those tuned to the more conventional pattern of a declining and/or stagnating acceptance ratio. This observation facilitates the discovery of solutions to several well-known benchmark k-coloring instances, some of which have been open for almost two decades.

Concepts: Mathematics, Photon, Quantum mechanics, Physics, Quantum field theory, Quantum electrodynamics, Monte Carlo, Graph theory


Classical electromagnetism and quantum mechanics are both central to the modern understanding of the physical world and its ongoing technological development. Quantum simulations of electromagnetic forces have the potential to provide information about materials and systems that do not have conveniently solvable theoretical descriptions, such as those related to quantum Hall physics, or that have not been physically observed, such as magnetic monopoles. However, quantum simulations that simultaneously implement all of the principal features of classical electromagnetism have thus far proved elusive. We experimentally realize a simulation in which a charged quantum particle interacts with the knotted electromagnetic fields peculiar to a topological model of ball lightning. These phenomena are induced by precise spatiotemporal control of the spin field of an atomic Bose-Einstein condensate, simultaneously creating a Shankar skyrmion-a topological excitation that was theoretically predicted four decades ago but never before observed experimentally. Our results reveal the versatile capabilities of synthetic electromagnetism and provide the first experimental images of topological three-dimensional skyrmions in a quantum system.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Magnetic field, Photon, Quantum mechanics, Physics, Quantum field theory, Quantum electrodynamics, Classical mechanics


Magnetic monopoles–particles that behave as isolated north or south magnetic poles–have been the subject of speculation since the first detailed observations of magnetism several hundred years ago. Numerous theoretical investigations and hitherto unsuccessful experimental searches have followed Dirac’s 1931 development of a theory of monopoles consistent with both quantum mechanics and the gauge invariance of the electromagnetic field. The existence of even a single Dirac magnetic monopole would have far-reaching physical consequences, most famously explaining the quantization of electric charge. Although analogues of magnetic monopoles have been found in exotic spin ices and other systems, there has been no direct experimental observation of Dirac monopoles within a medium described by a quantum field, such as superfluid helium-3 (refs 10-13). Here we demonstrate the controlled creation of Dirac monopoles in the synthetic magnetic field produced by a spinor Bose-Einstein condensate. Monopoles are identified, in both experiments and matching numerical simulations, at the termini of vortex lines within the condensate. By directly imaging such a vortex line, the presence of a monopole may be discerned from the experimental data alone. These real-space images provide conclusive and long-awaited experimental evidence of the existence of Dirac monopoles. Our result provides an unprecedented opportunity to observe and manipulate these quantum mechanical entities in a controlled environment.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Electromagnetic field, Magnetic field, Photon, Quantum mechanics, Quantum field theory, Quantum electrodynamics, Field


Attempts at cloning a quantum system result in the introduction of imperfections in the state of the copies. This is a consequence of the no-cloning theorem, which is a fundamental law of quantum physics and the backbone of security for quantum communications. Although perfect copies are prohibited, a quantum state may be copied with maximal accuracy via various optimal cloning schemes. Optimal quantum cloning, which lies at the border of the physical limit imposed by the no-signaling theorem and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, has been experimentally realized for low-dimensional photonic states. However, an increase in the dimensionality of quantum systems is greatly beneficial to quantum computation and communication protocols. Nonetheless, no experimental demonstration of optimal cloning machines has hitherto been shown for high-dimensional quantum systems. We perform optimal cloning of high-dimensional photonic states by means of the symmetrization method. We show the universality of our technique by conducting cloning of numerous arbitrary input states and fully characterize our cloning machine by performing quantum state tomography on cloned photons. In addition, a cloning attack on a Bennett and Brassard (BB84) quantum key distribution protocol is experimentally demonstrated to reveal the robustness of high-dimensional states in quantum cryptography.

Concepts: Photon, Quantum mechanics, Uncertainty principle, Quantum electrodynamics, Quantum entanglement, Quantum cryptography, Werner Heisenberg, Matrix mechanics


Surface plasmon polaritons can confine electromagnetic fields in subwavelength spaces and are of interest for photonics, optical data storage devices and biosensing applications. In analogy to photons, they exhibit wave-particle duality, whose different aspects have recently been observed in separate tailored experiments. Here we demonstrate the ability of ultrafast transmission electron microscopy to simultaneously image both the spatial interference and the quantization of such confined plasmonic fields. Our experiments are accomplished by spatiotemporally overlapping electron and light pulses on a single nanowire suspended on a graphene film. The resulting energy exchange between single electrons and the quanta of the photoinduced near-field is imaged synchronously with its spatial interference pattern. This methodology enables the control and visualization of plasmonic fields at the nanoscale, providing a promising tool for understanding the fundamental properties of confined electromagnetic fields and the development of advanced photonic circuits.

Concepts: Electron, Photon, Quantum mechanics, Optics, Light, Photoelectric effect, Quantum electrodynamics, Thomas Young


The precise knowledge of one of two complementary experimental outcomes prevents us from obtaining complete information about the other one. This formulation of Niels Bohr’s principle of complementarity when applied to the paradigm of wave-particle dualism–that is, to Young’s double-slit experiment–implies that the information about the slit through which a quantum particle has passed erases interference. In the present paper we report a double-slit experiment using two photons created by spontaneous parametric down-conversion where we observe interference in the signal photon despite the fact that we have located it in one of the slits due to its entanglement with the idler photon. This surprising aspect of complementarity comes to light by our special choice of the TEM(01) pump mode. According to quantum field theory the signal photon is then in a coherent superposition of two distinct wave vectors giving rise to interference fringes analogous to two mechanical slits.

Concepts: Electron, Photon, Quantum mechanics, Uncertainty principle, Photoelectric effect, Quantum field theory, Quantum electrodynamics, Niels Bohr


The density-functional approach to quantum electrodynamics extends traditional density-functional theory and opens the possibility to describe electron-photon interactions in terms of effective Kohn-Sham potentials. In this work, we numerically construct the exact electron-photon Kohn-Sham potentials for a prototype system that consists of a trapped electron coupled to a quantized electromagnetic mode in an optical high-Q cavity. Although the effective current that acts on the photons is known explicitly, the exact effective potential that describes the forces exerted by the photons on the electrons is obtained from a fixed-point inversion scheme. This procedure allows us to uncover important beyond-mean-field features of the effective potential that mark the breakdown of classical light-matter interactions. We observe peak and step structures in the effective potentials, which can be attributed solely to the quantum nature of light; i.e., they are real-space signatures of the photons. Our findings show how the ubiquitous dipole interaction with a classical electromagnetic field has to be modified in real space to take the quantum nature of the electromagnetic field fully into account.

Concepts: Electron, Electromagnetism, Magnetic field, Photon, Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Quantum electrodynamics


Uncertainty relations state that there exist certain incompatible measurements, to which the outcomes cannot be simultaneously predicted. While the exact incompatibility of quantum measurements dictated by such uncertainty relations can be inferred from the mathematical formalism of quantum theory, the question remains whether there is any more fundamental reason for the uncertainty relations to have this exact form. What, if any, would be the operational consequences if we were able to go beyond any of these uncertainty relations? Here we give a strong argument that justifies uncertainty relations in quantum theory by showing that violating them implies that it is also possible to violate the second law of thermodynamics. More precisely, we show that violating the uncertainty relations in quantum mechanics leads to a thermodynamic cycle with positive net work gain, which is very unlikely to exist in nature.

Concepts: Photon, Quantum mechanics, Physics, Uncertainty principle, Quantum electrodynamics, Thermodynamics, Entropy, Logic


A theoretical investigation of the possible existence of chiral polaron formation in graphene is reported. We present an analytical method to calculate the ground-state of the electron-phonon system within the framework of the Lee-Low-Pines theory. On the basis of our model, the influence of electron-optical phonon interaction on the graphene electronic spectrum is investigated. We considered only the doubly degenerate optical phonon modes of E(2g) symmetry near the zone center Γ. It is analytically shown that the energy dispersions of both valence and conduction bands of the pristine graphene differ significantly from those obtained through the standard electron self-energy calculations arising from the electron-optical phonon interactions. In this paper, we also show for the first time that the degenerate band structure of the graphene promotes the chiral polaron formation. Furthermore, due to the k-dependent nature of the polaronic self-energy, in analogy with quantum chromodynamics, we also propose a running electron-phonon coupling constant as a function of energy.

Concepts: Photon, Physics, Particle physics, Quantum field theory, Quantum electrodynamics, Chirality, Phonon, Standard Model


The electronic properties of graphene may be changed from semimetallic to semiconducting by introducing perforations (antidots) in a periodic pattern. The properties of such graphene antidot lattices (GALs) have previously been studied using atomistic models, which are very time consuming for large structures. We present a continuum model that uses the Dirac equation (DE) to describe the electronic and optical properties of GALs. The advantages of the Dirac model are that the calculation time does not depend on the size of the structures and that the results are scalable. In addition, an approximation of the band gap using the DE is presented. The Dirac model is compared with nearest-neighbour tight-binding (TB) in order to assess its accuracy. Extended zigzag regions give rise to localized edge states, whereas armchair edges do not. We find that the Dirac model is in quantitative agreement with TB for GALs without edge states, but deviates for antidots with large zigzag regions.

Concepts: Electron, Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Spin, Quantum field theory, Quantum electrodynamics, Electronic band structure, Gauge theory