Quantum physics is a spooky place that defies easy understanding. Quantum entanglement, for example, is a key (crazy) idea that two particles can be ‘linked’ and respond instantly to change in either of them despite being separated by great distance – like opposite sides of the universe. This is the famous spooky-action-at-a-distance idea. Entanglement is also at the heart of what gives, or will give, quantum computing its power.
Now, work by Rice University researchers suggests another quantum property – quantum criticality, a key feature of high-temp superconductivity – may be related to entanglement. A brief account of the work posted this week in IEEE Spectrum and written by Mark Anderson describes the work:
“The preliminary results suggest something approaching the same physics is behind these two essential but previously distinct quantum technologies. The temptation, then, is to imagine a future in which a sort of grand unified theory of entanglement and superconductivity might be developed, where breakthroughs in one field could be translated into the other.
“The research centers around a thin film of a metal (composed of the elements ytterbium, rhodium, and silicon) fabricated by researchers at the Vienna University of Technology. A team at Rice, then, analyzed its peculiar properties.
“They observed the film in a state that both exhibited so-called “quantum critical” behavior and a widespread level of quantum entanglement among billions of its electrons.
“Usually with qubits, you build one; you build two; if you get to ten, that’s a large number,” said Qimiao Si, professor of physics at Rice and director of the Rice Center for Quantum Materials. “There’s a tantalizing promise that collectively, there’s so many electrons that are quantum mechanically entangled, and they could potentially be a resource for quantum engineering.”
A paper (Singular charge fluctuations at a magnetic quantum critical point) describing the work was published in Science last week.
Link to IEEE Spectrum article (Quantum Entanglement Meets Superconductivity in Novel Experiment): https://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/computing/hardware/quantum-entanglement-superconductivity-technology-news-novel-experiment
Illustration Caption and Source: Terahertz radiation illuminates the material, which is made up of three elements. Vienna University of Technology