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Concept: Quantum field theory


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.

Concepts: Physics, Quantum field theory, Magnetism, Chemistry, Matter, Spin, Quantum mechanics, Condensed matter physics


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.

Concepts: Special relativity, Quantum mechanics, Spin, Noether's theorem, Physics, Standard Model, Quantum field theory, Fundamental physics concepts


Quantum spin liquids (QSLs) are topological states of matter exhibiting remarkable properties such as the capacity to protect quantum information from decoherence. Whereas their featureless ground states have precluded their straightforward experimental identification, excited states are more revealing and particularly interesting owing to the emergence of fundamentally new excitations such as Majorana fermions. Ideal probes of these excitations are inelastic neutron scattering experiments. These we report here for a ruthenium-based material, α-RuCl3, continuing a major search (so far concentrated on iridium materials) for realizations of the celebrated Kitaev honeycomb topological QSL. Our measurements confirm the requisite strong spin-orbit coupling and low-temperature magnetic order matching predictions proximate to the QSL. We find stacking faults, inherent to the highly two-dimensional nature of the material, resolve an outstanding puzzle. Crucially, dynamical response measurements above interlayer energy scales are naturally accounted for in terms of deconfinement physics expected for QSLs. Comparing these with recent dynamical calculations involving gauge flux excitations and Majorana fermions of the pure Kitaev model, we propose the excitation spectrum of α-RuCl3 as a prime candidate for fractionalized Kitaev physics.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Quantum state, Spin, Elementary particle, Quantum field theory, Fermion, Standard Model, Neutron


Quantum superpositions of distinct coherent states in a single-mode harmonic oscillator, known as “cat states,” have been an elegant demonstration of Schrödinger’s famous cat paradox. Here, we realize a two-mode cat state of electromagnetic fields in two microwave cavities bridged by a superconducting artificial atom, which can also be viewed as an entangled pair of single-cavity cat states. We present full quantum state tomography of this complex cat state over a Hilbert space exceeding 100 dimensions via quantum nondemolition measurements of the joint photon number parity. The ability to manipulate such multicavity quantum states paves the way for logical operations between redundantly encoded qubits for fault-tolerant quantum computation and communication.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Quantum harmonic oscillator, Qubit, Quantum state, Quantum entanglement, Photon, Quantum field theory, Quantum mechanics


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


Transmitting quantum information between two remote parties is a requirement for many quantum applications; however, direct transmission of states is often impossible because of noise and loss in the communication channel. Entanglement-enhanced state communication can be used to avoid this issue, but current techniques require extensive experimental resources to transmit large quantum states deterministically. To reduce these resource requirements, we use photon pairs hyperentangled in polarization and orbital angular momentum to implement superdense teleportation, which can communicate a specific class of single-photon ququarts. We achieve an average fidelity of 87.0(1)%, almost twice the classical limit of 44% with reduced experimental resources than traditional techniques. We conclude by discussing the information content of this constrained set of states and demonstrate that this set has an exponentially larger state space volume than the lower-dimensional general states with the same number of state parameters.

Concepts: Albert Einstein, Photon, Radio, Quantum field theory, Angular momentum, Spin, Fundamental physics concepts, Quantum mechanics


Quantum computers are unnecessary for exponentially efficient computation or simulation if the Extended Church-Turing thesis is correct. The thesis would be strongly contradicted by physical devices that efficiently perform tasks believed to be intractable for classical computers. Such a task is boson sampling: sampling the output distributions of n bosons scattered by some linear-optical unitary process. Here, we test the central premise of boson sampling, experimentally verifying that 3-photon scattering amplitudes are given by the permanents of submatrices generated from a unitary describing a 6-mode integrated optical circuit. We find the protocol to be robust, working even with the unavoidable effects of photon loss, non-ideal sources, and imperfect detection. Scaling this to large numbers of photons will be a much simpler task than building a universal quantum computer.

Concepts: Computation, Boson, Elementary particle, Particle physics, Quantum field theory, Quantum computer, Photon, Computer


Controllable metal-insulator transitions (MIT), Rashba-Dresselhaus (RD) spin splitting, and Weyl semimetals are promising schemes for realizing processing devices. Complex oxides are a desirable materials platform for such devices, as they host delicate and tunable charge, spin, orbital, and lattice degrees of freedoms. Here, using first-principles calculations and symmetry analysis, we identify an electric-field tunable MIT, RD effect, and Weyl semimetal in a known, charge-ordered, and polar relativistic oxide Ag2BiO3 at room temperature. Remarkably, a centrosymmetric BiO6 octahedral-breathing distortion induces a sizable spontaneous ferroelectric polarization through Bi3+/Bi5+ charge disproportionation, which stabilizes simultaneously the insulating phase. The continuous attenuation of the Bi3+/Bi5+ disproportionation obtained by applying an external electric field reduces the band gap and RD spin splitting and drives the phase transition from a ferroelectric RD insulator to a paraelectric Dirac semimetal, through a topological Weyl semimetal intermediate state. These findings suggest that Ag2BiO3 is a promising material for spin-orbitonic applications.

Concepts: Standard Model, Quantum mechanics, Maxwell's equations, Electron, Quantum field theory, Magnetic field, Condensed matter physics, Fundamental physics concepts


Entanglement is the key resource for many long-range quantum information tasks, including secure communication and fundamental tests of quantum physics. These tasks require robust verification of shared entanglement, but performing it over long distances is presently technologically intractable because the loss through an optical fiber or free-space channel opens up a detection loophole. We design and experimentally demonstrate a scheme that verifies entanglement in the presence of at least 14.8 ± 0.1 dB of added loss, equivalent to approximately 80 km of telecommunication fiber. Our protocol relies on entanglement swapping to herald the presence of a photon after the lossy channel, enabling event-ready implementation of quantum steering. This result overcomes the key barrier in device-independent communication under realistic high-loss scenarios and in the realization of a quantum repeater.

Concepts: Chemistry, Quantum field theory, Light, Causality, Quantum entanglement, Photon, Physics, Quantum mechanics


The conventional strain energies for azetidine and phosphetane are determined within the isodesmic, homodesmotic, and hyperhomodesmotic models. Optimum equilibrium geometries, harmonic vibrational frequencies, and corresponding electronic energies and zero-point vibrational energies are computed for all pertinent molecular systems using self-consistent field theory, second-order perturbation theory, and density functional theory and using the correlation consistent basis sets cc-pVDZ, cc-pVTZ, and cc-pVQZ. Single point fourth-order perturbation theory, CCSD, and CCSD(T) calculations using the cc-pVTZ and the cc-pVQZ basis sets are computed using the MP2/cc-pVTZ and MP2/cc-pVQZ optimized geometries, respectively, to ascertain the contribution of higher order correlation effects and to determine if the quadruple-zeta valence basis set is needed when higher order correlation is included. In the density functional theory study, eight different functionals are used including B3LYP, wB97XD, and M06-2X to determine if any functional can yield results similar to those obtained at the CCSD(T) level. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Temperature, Basis set, Quantum field theory, Fundamental physics concepts, Density functional theory, Schrödinger equation, Quantum chemistry, Computational chemistry