Light behaves as a magnet in a new Quantum simulator

Light behaves as particle when it interacts with matter as a wave when it travels but do you know in a new Quantum simulator designed to stimulate the complex behavior of real magnets under very low temperature, light behaves as a magnet . Let’s discuss.

The need for Quantum simulator

When subject to laws of Quantum mechanics , the study of material made by many interacting particles displays a so complex behavior that the most powerful computers failed to give its quantitative behavior.

So in 1981 visionary physicist Richard Feynman argued that we can simulate the such complex behavior using an artificial apparatus governed by the very same quantum laws — what has come to be known as a “Quantum simulator.

An introduction to Quantum simulator in which light behaves as a magnet

Riccardo Rota and Vincenzo Savona, the two EPFL physicists leading the study, working on the design of their quantum simulator.
Credit: R. Ravasio/EPFL
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Riccardo Rota and Vincenzo Savona, the two EPFL physicists leading the study, working on the design of their quantum simulator.
Credit: R. Ravasio/EPFL

Physicists at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) proposed this new quantum simulator — which is a laser-based device that could be used to study a range of quantum systems. The simulator could help scientists better understand the properties of complex materials under extreme conditions.

The simulator is built using superconducting circuits — the same technological platform used in modern quantum computers. The circuits are coupled to laser fields in such a way that it causes an effective interaction among light particles (photons).

One example of a complex quantum system is that of magnets placed at really low temperatures. Close to absolute zero (-273.15 degrees Celsius), magnetic materials may undergo what is known as a “quantum phase transition.” Like a conventional phase transition (e.g. ice melting into water, or water evaporating into steam), the system still switches between two states, except that close to the transition point the system manifests Quantum entanglement — the most profound feature predicted by quantum mechanics. Studying this phenomenon in real materials is a very challenging task for experimental physicists.

The EPFL simulator could address this problem, according to the team. “The simulator is a simple photonic device that can easily be built and run with current experimental techniques,” said researcher Riccardo Rota. “But more importantly, it can simulate the complex behavior of real, interacting magnets at very low temperatures. 

When we studied the simulator, we found that the photons(light particles)behaved in the same way as magnetic dipoles across the quantum phase transition in real materials which means we can now use photons to run a virtual experiment on quantum magnets instead of having to set up the experiment itself.

This simulator can be applied to a broad class of quantum systems, allowing physicists to study several complex quantum phenomena. It is a truly remarkable advance in the development of quantum technologies.”

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