According to the principle of quantum superposition, a particle specific, for example an electron, there is at the same time, in all its possible states (or configuration properties). And it is not until a scientist measures in his laboratory when all of these possibilities are realized in a single result, which corresponds with only one of their possible configurations. In other words, it is as if the particle could be in multiple places at once, and only materialize in the exact location that the researcher seeks.
This strange property, that does not occur in our reality, macroscopic and daily, it has been proven thousands of times in experiments. And now, a team of researchers from the universities of Vienna and Basel just test the principle of quantum superposition at a scale never seen up to now, a series of complex molecules and are composed close to two thousand atoms. The impressive achievement, which leads to the quantum mechanics on a scale of mass hitherto unknown, has just been published in the journal Nature Physics.The Schrödinger equation
The principle of superposition is a hallmark of the quantum theory that emerges from its equations of a more fundamental, that of Schrödinger, which describes the particles as wave functions, like waves of water on the surface of a pond, may be interfering with each other. However, and unlike the water waves, which reflect a collective behavior of many water molecules that interact, the wave quantum can also be associated with isolated particles.
the example more elegant, possesses a wave nature of the particles in the double slit experiment, in which a single particle passes simultaneously through both slits. This effect has been demonstrated for photons, electrons, neutrons, entire atoms, and even molecules, and poses a question that physicists and philosophers have struggled since the earliest days of quantum mechanics: how do you translate these strange quantum effects to the classical world with which we are all familiar? Or, put another way, how is it possible that the particles, the "bricks" that make up matter, to behave in a way totally different from the material objects of the world that is familiar to us?
The experiments of Markus Arndt and his team at the University of Vienna dealt with this question in the most direct way possible, that is to say, leading to the superposition of quantum objects each time more mass. The molecules of their experiments, in fact, had masses above 25,000 atomic mass units , several times larger than in previous experiments. One of the larger molecules sent through the interferometer, C707H260F908N16S53Zn4, was composed by more than 40,000 protons, neutrons and electrons different.
Marcel mayor and his team at the University of Basel, for his part, had used special techniques to synthesize molecules so massive that they were sufficiently stable as to form a molecular beam in a vacuum almost absolute. To test the quantum nature of these particles also required a interferometer-wavelength of matter with a base line of two meters long that was built specifically in Vienna.robust mechanics
There are several theoretical models that try to explain how it might work the transition from a quantum regime (the particle) to the classic (the of macroscopic objects). But they all predict that the wave function of a particle collapses spontaneously when you arrive at a rate proportional to its mass squared. It is that collapse which prevents the quantum properties are manifest in heavy objects, made of thousands or millions of particles, which are precisely the ones who populate the "classical world" that surrounds us.
But the researchers in Vienna and Basel managed to show experimentally that the overlap (that is to say, the "behavior" of the quantum) is kept (although for a limited time) even on sets of particles and atoms much heavier, which will force you to review the calculations in terms of the frequency and localization of the process of collapse. During the experiments of this work, the researchers managed to get their molecules to remain in the overlay for longer than 7 milliseconds, more than enough time to establish new limits interferometer in models of quantum alternatives.
"Our experiments -the researchers say - show that the quantum mechanics, with all its rarity, it is also incredibly robust , and we believe that future experiments the tested on a scale even more massive". It may be that in the future the quantum properties, like superposition, can be "exported" to macroscopic objects, or even to living beings, which would lead to advances in unimaginable today. One thing, however, seems clear: the line between what is quantum and what is classical is becoming increasingly blurred.Updated Date: 03 October 2019, 01:00