Researchers Observe Quantum Coherence in Nature

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Researchers from University of Warwick developed a new test to spot where the ability to exploit the power of quantum mechanics has evolved in nature

A team of researchers from University of Warwick developed a new test that identifies a hallmark of quantum coherence. The test helps to classify properties of particles in a quantum state that interact with a real-world environment. According to the researchers, the test enables to quantify and track quantum coherence in the natural world with the help of laboratory experiments. The research was published in the journal Physical Review A on November 23, 2018.

The new theoretical research is expected to facilitate development of new experiments for determining whether biological processes leverage quantum mechanics for their advantage. It is challenging to locate microscopic particles in a quantum state as approaches to observe these particles change their state. These stealthy particles are capable of residing in several locations or configurations simultaneously. This phenomenon is known as quantum coherence. The phenomenon plays major role in technologies such as quantum computers, quantum sensors, and quantum communication systems that rely on ordered systems that are separated from the rest of the world. However, it is challenging to determine whether quantum coherence exists in the noisier and messier real world.

The test developed by the team includes a procedure to eliminate quantum coherence in order to observe the change in later measurements. The location of a measurably large impact can help to demonstrate that the location must have experienced quantum coherence in the system. The study further helps to understand the possible exceptions to such conclusion that relies on the pace at which the special procedure can destroy the coherence. According to Dr. George Knee, 1851 Royal Commission Research Fellow from the University’s Department of Physics, presence of quantum coherence in a biological system can constitute a paradigm shift away from the notion that only humans can fabricate systems that are capable of exhibiting and leveraging quantum coherence.

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Cynthia Carrier is a graduate of Texas A&M, where she played volleyball and annoyed a lot of professors. Now as Plains Gazette's entertainment and Lifestyle Editor, she enjoys writing about delicious BBQ, outrageous style trends and all things Texas.