Scientists capture on camera the ‘first ever’ image of quantum entanglement which Einstein once called ‘spooky action at a distance’
- Physicists from the University of Glasgow have recorded the phenomenon
- This is where where two particles interact and share their physical states
- This connection is impossible under the rules which govern the wider universe
- That’s because the particles interact for an instant no matter their distance
Physicists have for the first time captured an image of quantum entanglement, which a baffled Albert Einstein once called ‘spooky action at a distance’.
Researchers say they have captured visual evidence of a strong form of the elusive phenomenon called Bell entanglement.
Quantum entanglement is where two particles interact and share their physical states for an instant – no matter how great the distance which separates them.
This connection, despite being impossible under the rules which govern the wider universe, underpins the field of quantum mechanics.
This is the branch of scientific study which seeks to explain and set rules for the way particles smaller than the atom behave.
Physicists have for the first time captured an image of quantum entanglement, which a baffled Albert Einstein once called ‘spooky action at a distance’. They have captured visual evidence of a strong form of the elusive phenomenon called Bell entanglement (pictured)
A team of physicists from the University of Glasgow described how they recorded the phenomenon in a photo for the first time.
They devised a system which fires a stream of entangled photons from a quantum source of light at ‘non-conventional’ objects – displayed on liquid-crystal materials which change the phase of the photons as they pass through.
‘The image we’ve managed to capture is an elegant demonstration of a fundamental property of nature, seen for the very first time in the form of an image,’ said Paul-Antoine Moreau, of the university’s school of physics and astronomy.
‘It’s an exciting result which could be used to advance the emerging field of quantum computing and lead to new types of imaging.’
Einstein thought quantum mechanics was ‘spooky’ because of the instantaneousness of the apparent remote interaction between two entangled particles.
This seemed incompatible with elements of his special theory of relativity.
Scientist Sir John Bell later formalised this concept by describing a strong form of entanglement exhibiting this feature.
Bell entanglement is today being harnessed in practical applications like quantum computing and cryptography, however it has never before been captured in a single image.
Bell entanglement is today being harnessed in practical applications like quantum computing and cryptography (artist’s impression). An area where developments in this field are being put to use is in the field of quantum internet (stock)
An area where these developments are being put to use is in the field of quantum internet.
British scientists reported in November 2018 that they had made a key breakthrough in the pursuit of an ultra-fast and hyper-secure quantum internet.
A quantum computer would be able to do calculations that would take current supercomputers billions of years to carry out.
It would also allow for the creation of unhackable digital connections, helping find cures for dementia, creating new pharmaceuticals and developing more efficient fertilisers.
Experts from claim to have ‘tamed’ one of the biggest issues plaguing the development of the field.
Quantum entanglement is highly sensitive to environmental interference that can easily disrupt a signal.
But Sussex University researchers believe that microwave technology can be used to insulate the devices and protect them from this issue.
The full findings of the new study were published in the journal Science Advance.
WHAT IS QUANTUM ENTANGLEMENT?
In quantum physics, entangled particles remain connected so that actions performed by one affects the behaviour of the other, even if they are separated by huge distances.
This means if you measure, ‘up’ for the spin of one photon from an entangled pair, the spin of the other, measured an instant later, will be ‘down’ – even if the two are on opposite sides of the world.
Entanglement takes place when a part of particles interact physically.
In quantum physics, entangled particles remain connected so that actions performed by one affects the behaviour of the other, even if they are separated by huge distances (artist’s impression)
For instance, a laser beam fired through a certain type of crystal can cause individual light particles to be split into pairs of entangled photons.
The theory that so riled Einstein is also referred to as ‘spooky action at a distance’.
Einstein wasn’t happy with theory, because it suggested that information could travel faster than light.