Harvard researchers verify existence of new state of matter, opens doors for quantum science
(TheCrimson) Harvard physicists documented the existence of a new state of matter, paving the way for potential applications in quantum technology.
The state of matter, known as quantum spin liquid, has special properties that produce long-range quantum entanglement — a phenomenon in which particles’ states are connected despite spatial separation — according to the team’s paper published in Science last week.
Scientists first predicted the existence of quantum spin liquids about 50 years ago, but had not been able to detect it in experiments, according to Giulia Semeghini, a postdoctoral fellow in the Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for Quantum Optics and lead author of the study.
Semeghini said that the group decided to take a new experimental approach by trying to create a quantum spin liquid themselves instead of searching for it in existing systems.
The group used a “programmable quantum simulator” — a quantum computer that uses lasers to reproduce a physical setting and manipulate atoms’ geometry and interactions — to successfully recreate the predicted state of matter, per the paper.
With quantum spin liquids, however, one could create a “topological qubit” which stores information in the topology — the shape — of a system, as opposed to a standard qubit that stores information in the state of a single object, Semeghini said. Because topology is very hard to break, the topological qubit is very resistant to error.