Sign In

Communications of the ACM

ACM News

Researchers 'Split' Phonons in Step Toward New Type of Quantum Computer

View as: Print Mobile App Share:
Artist's impression of a platform for linear mechanical quantum computing.

To demonstrate phonons' quantum capabilities, the team created a beamsplitter that can split a beam of sound in half, transmitting half and reflecting the other half back to its source.

Credit: Peter Alen

When we listen to our favorite song, what sounds like a continuous wave of music is actually transmitted as tiny packets of quantum particles called phonons.

The laws of quantum mechanics hold that quantum particles are fundamentally indivisible and therefore cannot be split, but researchers at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago are exploring what happens when you try to split a phonon.

In two experiments a team led by Andrew Cleland used a device called an acoustic beamsplitter to "split" phonons and thereby demonstrate their quantum properties. By showing that the beamsplitter can be used to both induce a special quantum superposition state for one phonon, and further create interference between two phonons, the research team took the first critical steps toward creating a new kind of quantum computer.

From University of Chicago
View Full Article



No entries found

Sign In for Full Access
» Forgot Password? » Create an ACM Web Account