Physicists have recently developed a working “quantum radar” prototype that uses the phenomenon of quantum entanglement to detect objects. A system that could ultimately surpass conventional radar in certain circumstances.
A complex phenomenon
Thequantum entanglement describes the strange state in which two particles can become so closely linked that they seem to communicate instantly, no matter how far apart. Measuring the state of one particle instantly changes the state of the other, even if it is at the other end of the Universe.
This implies that information travels at a speed higher than that of light, which may seem difficult to imagine. Yet this is happening clearly and measurably. A phenomenon that disturbed Albert einstein himself, whom he called ” scary action from a distance “
Although this complex phenomenon is still poorly understood today, this does not prevent scientists from finding ways to take advantage of it. In recent years, many advances have been made in the field, with a view to creating quantum computers and a quantum internet, which would both prove to be ultra fast and would also have the advantage of being almost inviolable.
As part of this new work presented in the review Science Advances, researchers fromAustrian Institute of Science and Technology in collaboration with scientists from MIT anduniversity of york, have developed a new radar prototype using quantum entanglement as a method of object detection.
Use quantum entanglement for detection
The radar works by sending radio waves or microwaves and then analyzing how they are reflected by the target, which gives a clear picture of the objects in the area covered. The new prototype system works on the same basic principle, but instead of emitting radio waves, it sends out photons.
Rather than using conventional microwaves, the researchers entangled two groups of photons, called signal photons and free photons (idler). The former are sent to the object of interest, while the latter are measured in relative isolation, free from interference and noise. When the signal photons are reflected, the real entanglement between the signal and the free photons is lost, but a tiny correlation survives, creating a signature describing the existence or the absence of the target object, whatever the level of surrounding noise.
Although this process remains fragile and very experimental, the team affirms that the quantum radar would prove to be more efficient than a conventional device in certain situations, in particular noisy thermal environments.
“What we have demonstrated is a proof of concept for quantum microwave radar,” says Shabir Barzanjeh, lead author of the study. ” Using a tangle generated a few thousandths of a degree above absolute zero (-273.14 ° C), we were able to detect objects with low reflectivity at room temperature. “
In addition to improving radar systems, the researchers believe that this technology could also have potential applications for very low power biomedical imaging and security scanners.