Concept: Quantum field theory
It is believed that not all quantum systems can be simulated efficiently using classical computational resources. This notion is supported by the fact that it is not known how to express the partition function in a sign-free manner in quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) simulations for a large number of important problems. The answer to the question-whether there is a fundamental obstruction to such a sign-free representation in generic quantum systems-remains unclear. Focusing on systems with bosonic degrees of freedom, we show that quantized gravitational responses appear as obstructions to local sign-free QMC. In condensed matter physics settings, these responses, such as thermal Hall conductance, are associated with fractional quantum Hall effects. We show that similar arguments also hold in the case of spontaneously broken time-reversal (TR) symmetry such as in the chiral phase of a perturbed quantum Kagome antiferromagnet. The connection between quantized gravitational responses and the sign problem is also manifested in certain vertex models, where TR symmetry is preserved.
Quantum steering allows two parties to verify shared entanglement even if one measurement device is untrusted. A conclusive demonstration of steering through the violation of a steering inequality is of considerable fundamental interest and opens up applications in quantum communication. To date, all experimental tests with single-photon states have relied on post selection, allowing untrusted devices to cheat by hiding unfavourable events in losses. Here we close this ‘detection loophole’ by combining a highly efficient source of entangled photon pairs with superconducting transition-edge sensors. We achieve an unprecedented ∼62% conditional detection efficiency of entangled photons and violate a steering inequality with the minimal number of measurement settings by 48 s.d.s. Our results provide a clear path to practical applications of steering and to a photonic loophole-free Bell test.
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.
The spectrum of the hydrogen atom has played a central part in fundamental physics in the past 200 years. Historical examples of its significance include the wavelength measurements of absorption lines in the solar spectrum by Fraunhofer, the identification of transition lines by Balmer, Lyman et al., the empirical description of allowed wavelengths by Rydberg, the quantum model of Bohr, the capability of quantum electrodynamics to precisely predict transition frequencies, and modern measurements of the 1S-2S transition by Hänsch(1) to a precision of a few parts in 10(15). Recently, we have achieved the technological advances to allow us to focus on antihydrogen-the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen(2,3,4). The Standard Model predicts that there should have been equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the primordial Universe after the Big Bang, but today’s Universe is observed to consist almost entirely of ordinary matter. This motivates physicists to carefully study antimatter, to see if there is a small asymmetry in the laws of physics that govern the two types of matter. In particular, the CPT (charge conjugation, parity reversal, time reversal) Theorem, a cornerstone of the Standard Model, requires that hydrogen and antihydrogen have the same spectrum. Here we report the observation of the 1S-2S transition in magnetically trapped atoms of antihydrogen in the ALPHA-2 apparatus at CERN. We determine that the frequency of the transition, driven by two photons from a laser at 243 nm, is consistent with that expected for hydrogen in the same environment. This laser excitation of a quantum state of an atom of antimatter represents a highly precise measurement performed on an anti-atom. Our result is consistent with CPT invariance at a relative precision of ~2 × 10(-10).
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.
The fundamental properties of light derive from its constituent particles-massless quanta (photons) that do not interact with one another. However, it has long been known that the realization of coherent interactions between individual photons, akin to those associated with conventional massive particles, could enable a wide variety of novel scientific and engineering applications. Here we demonstrate a quantum nonlinear medium inside which individual photons travel as massive particles with strong mutual attraction, such that the propagation of photon pairs is dominated by a two-photon bound state. We achieve this through dispersive coupling of light to strongly interacting atoms in highly excited Rydberg states. We measure the dynamical evolution of the two-photon wavefunction using time-resolved quantum state tomography, and demonstrate a conditional phase shift exceeding one radian, resulting in polarization-entangled photon pairs. Particular applications of this technique include all-optical switching, deterministic photonic quantum logic and the generation of strongly correlated states of light.
Quantum point contacts are cornerstones of mesoscopic physics and central building blocks for quantum electronics. Although the Fermi wavelength in high-quality bulk graphene can be tuned up to hundreds of nanometres, the observation of quantum confinement of Dirac electrons in nanostructured graphene has proven surprisingly challenging. Here we show ballistic transport and quantized conductance of size-confined Dirac fermions in lithographically defined graphene constrictions. At high carrier densities, the observed conductance agrees excellently with the Landauer theory of ballistic transport without any adjustable parameter. Experimental data and simulations for the evolution of the conductance with magnetic field unambiguously confirm the identification of size quantization in the constriction. Close to the charge neutrality point, bias voltage spectroscopy reveals a renormalized Fermi velocity of ∼1.5 × 10(6) m s(-1) in our constrictions. Moreover, at low carrier density transport measurements allow probing the density of localized states at edges, thus offering a unique handle on edge physics in graphene devices.
The validity of the superposition principle and of Born’s rule are well-accepted tenants of quantum mechanics. Surprisingly, it has been predicted that the intensity pattern formed in a three-slit experiment is seemingly in contradiction with the most conventional form of the superposition principle when exotic looped trajectories are taken into account. However, the probability of observing such paths is typically very small, thus rendering them extremely difficult to measure. Here we confirm the validity of Born’s rule and present the first experimental observation of exotic trajectories as additional paths for the light by directly measuring their contribution to the formation of optical interference fringes. We accomplish this by enhancing the electromagnetic near-fields in the vicinity of the slits through the excitation of surface plasmons. This process increases the probability of occurrence of these exotic trajectories, demonstrating that they are related to the near-field component of the photon’s wavefunction.
Quantum computers can be used to address electronic-structure problems and problems in materials science and condensed matter physics that can be formulated as interacting fermionic problems, problems which stretch the limits of existing high-performance computers. Finding exact solutions to such problems numerically has a computational cost that scales exponentially with the size of the system, and Monte Carlo methods are unsuitable owing to the fermionic sign problem. These limitations of classical computational methods have made solving even few-atom electronic-structure problems interesting for implementation using medium-sized quantum computers. Yet experimental implementations have so far been restricted to molecules involving only hydrogen and helium. Here we demonstrate the experimental optimization of Hamiltonian problems with up to six qubits and more than one hundred Pauli terms, determining the ground-state energy for molecules of increasing size, up to BeH2. We achieve this result by using a variational quantum eigenvalue solver (eigensolver) with efficiently prepared trial states that are tailored specifically to the interactions that are available in our quantum processor, combined with a compact encoding of fermionic Hamiltonians and a robust stochastic optimization routine. We demonstrate the flexibility of our approach by applying it to a problem of quantum magnetism, an antiferromagnetic Heisenberg model in an external magnetic field. In all cases, we find agreement between our experiments and numerical simulations using a model of the device with noise. Our results help to elucidate the requirements for scaling the method to larger systems and for bridging the gap between key problems in high-performance computing and their implementation on quantum hardware.
The conservation laws, such as those of charge, energy and momentum, have a central role in physics. In some special cases, classical conservation laws are broken at the quantum level by quantum fluctuations, in which case the theory is said to have quantum anomalies. One of the most prominent examples is the chiral anomaly, which involves massless chiral fermions. These particles have their spin, or internal angular momentum, aligned either parallel or antiparallel with their linear momentum, labelled as left and right chirality, respectively. In three spatial dimensions, the chiral anomaly is the breakdown (as a result of externally applied parallel electric and magnetic fields) of the classical conservation law that dictates that the number of massless fermions of each chirality are separately conserved. The current that measures the difference between left- and right-handed particles is called the axial current and is not conserved at the quantum level. In addition, an underlying curved space-time provides a distinct contribution to a chiral imbalance, an effect known as the mixed axial-gravitational anomaly, but this anomaly has yet to be confirmed experimentally. However, the presence of a mixed gauge-gravitational anomaly has recently been tied to thermoelectrical transport in a magnetic field, even in flat space-time, suggesting that such types of mixed anomaly could be experimentally probed in condensed matter systems known as Weyl semimetals. Here, using a temperature gradient, we observe experimentally a positive magneto-thermoelectric conductance in the Weyl semimetal niobium phosphide (NbP) for collinear temperature gradients and magnetic fields that vanishes in the ultra-quantum limit, when only a single Landau level is occupied. This observation is consistent with the presence of a mixed axial-gravitational anomaly, providing clear evidence for a theoretical concept that has so far eluded experimental detection.