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A new test to spot where the ability to exploit the power of quantum mechanics has evolved in nature has been developed by physicists at the University of Warwick.
The test identifies a tell-tale hallmark of quantum coherence, classifying the properties of particles in a quantum state that are interacting with a real-world environment. The test should allow scientists to quantify and track quantum coherence in the natural world using laboratory experiments.
Week - Physical - Review - A - Work
Published this week in the journal Physical Review A, the theoretical work could lead to experiments that help solve the debate on whether biological processes exploit quantum mechanics to their advantage, and whether evolution could provide us with a template for quantum technologies such as computers, sensors and energy sources.
Microscopic particles in a quantum state are very difficult to spot as the act of observing them changes their state. These stealthy particles can exist in many locations or configurations simultaneously, a feature known as quantum coherence.
Effect - Technologies - Computers - Sensors - Communication
The effect underpins technologies such as quantum computers, quantum sensors and quantum communication systems, which use ordered systems isolated from the rest of the world. However, whether quantum coherence exists in the noisier and messier real world is more difficult to identify.
The test involves a procedure to destroy quantum coherence, and then to observe the change in later measurements. Where a measurably large impact is observed, scientists can demonstrate that there must have been quantum coherence in the system. The new work clarifies the possible exceptions to this conclusion, which depend on how quickly the special procedure can destroy the coherence.
Dr - George - Knee - Royal - Commission
Dr. George Knee, 1851 Royal Commission Research Fellow from the University's Department of Physics, said: "To demonstrate the presence of quantum coherence in a biological system would constitute a paradigm shift, away from the idea that only humans have the ability to engineer systems capable...
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