It's a good day for quantum physics. Researchers from the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering have found a way to extend quantum states to make them last 10,000 longer than before.
This is a huge leap given scientists have been working hard to try and keep these states going for longer than a few millionths of a second.
The findings were published in the journal Science on Thursday.
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"This breakthrough lays the groundwork for exciting new avenues of research in quantum science," said study lead author David Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering.
"The broad applicability of this discovery, coupled with a remarkably simple implementation, allows this robust coherence to impact many aspects of quantum engineering. It enables new research opportunities previously thought impractical."
The team achieved no easy feat given quantum states require incredibly quiet and stable spaces in which to function. Keeping any noise disturbance to a minimum is key.
The University of Chicago team took a slightly different tack "With this approach, we don’t try to eliminate noise in the surroundings; instead, we 'trick' the system into thinking it doesn’t experience the noise," explained postdoctoral researcher Kevin Miao, the first author of the paper.
Their method enabled the quantum state to remain coherent for up to 22 milliseconds — which is four orders of magnitude higher than without their change. The team's system almost entirely tunes out any changes in temperature, physical vibrations or electromagnetic noise — things that usually temper with quantum states.
As per the scientists, their fantastic discovery could lead to new discoveries in almost every area of quantum technology.
They almost make it sound easy: "The best part is, it’s incredibly easy to do," Miao said. "The science behind it is intricate, but the logistics of adding an alternating magnetic field are very straightforward."