(PhysicsWorld) Researchers at the US’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado have developed a quantum squeezing and amplification technique that may be useful in developing quantum sensors and quantum computers.
Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle puts a fundamental restriction on how precise a measurement can be made on a quantum object such as a single ion. The only way to decrease the uncertainty in the position of the ion is to boost the uncertainty in the momentum. This process is called squeezing because much like a balloon, squeezing along one direction in position-momentum space creates a bulge in the other direction.
The ability to monitor the displacement of a trapped ion provides a very sensitive way of measuring acceleration and external fields so the technique could find use in quantum sensors. With further improvements, such sensors could be used to study the effects of gravity on quantum objects.
Trapped ions also function as qubits in quantum computers and the squeezing and amplification process could be used to transmit quantum information between ions.