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Subtleties of witnessing quantum coherence in nonisolated systems

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Published this week in the journal Physical Review A, the paper "Subtleties of witnessing quantum coherence in nonisolated systems" (DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevA.98.052328) from George, Max, Luke, and Animesh 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 can display a feature known as quantum coherence where particles can exist in many locations or configurations simultaneously. This 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 paper proposes a test which 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. The paper has recieved media coverage including Phys.org.

Mon 03 December 2018, 13:02 | Tags: Research