Quantum Physics Latest Update: A New Quantum Zeno Effect Experiment Showed Counterfactuality In Quantum Domain

First Posted: May 06, 2017 04:50 AM EDT

Most people have heard the saying "a watched pot never boils." Interestingly, the saying holds true in quantum physics. According to many physicists, the watched pot concept is the underlying principle of the recently conceptualized quantum zeno effect.

The zeno effect implies that constantly watched (more appropriately observed) unstable particles never decay. In other words, repeated study of unstable particle systems either under microscope or with the help of laser lights suppresses the unitary time evolution of the system at a quantum level.

In a recently conducted experiment by a group of Chinese scientists, it was found that a counterfactual communication system can transfer quantum states (monochrome bitmap in the said experiment) between two separate locations. As per the results obtained from the experiment, the transfer of quantum states does not involve the transmission of any quantum or classical particles.

According to, counterfactuality can function only in the presence of a quantum channel. This quantum channel may sometimes mediate the transfer of quantum particles. Therefore, the researchers were extremely careful regarding tracking such unintended transfers. To do so, they placed multiple "single-photon detectors" near the output ports of an array of beam splitters.

Furthermore, they also used nested interferometers to study the state of the system without changing any of its parameters. The data obtained from the experiments that involved such quantum particle transfer were discarded immediately and a new experiment was run again.

The results obtained in these experiments led the researchers to hypothesize that quantum zeno effect works on the basis of the non-intuitive principle that looking at something changes its nature and function at a quantum level.

According to the corresponding article that was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, direct communication between two sites can be mediated without the transmission of any carrier particle. Physicists propose that such direct communication networks that rely on the principles of quantum zeno effect and counterfactuality can be used for the development of quantum communication systems. Furthermore, they can also be used for imaging extremely rare and delicate samples such as ancient artifacts without actually touching them.

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