What is quantum interference and how does it work? – Definition of technological objective (2023)

What is quantum interference and how does it work? – Definition of technological objective (1)


  • Gavin Wright

What is quantum interference?

Quantum interference occurs when subatomic particles interact in a probabilistic process, affecting themselves and other particles.overlapCondition. When measuring the quantum state, you can influence the probability of the results. Quantum interference, along with quantaplot, is essential for the functioning ofQuantincomputer.

Quantum interference is similar to interference in other types of waves. For example, imagine dropping two stones into a still pool of water, creating two ripples or groups of ripples in the pond. In some places, the crests or crests of two waves collide, resulting in a larger wave. In other places, the peak of one wave collides with the trough or trough of another wave, and the two cancel out.

In a quantum system, the particles exist as a probability wave of possible positions. These probability waves can interact so that when the system is measured, some outcomes are more likely and others less likely. This is known asinterference pattern. When waves amplify each other, that's calledconstructive influence. When they cancel each other out, it is saidDestructive Interference.

Explaining quantum interference with the double slit experiment

Whilequantum mechanicsIt may seem intimidating, but the double-slit experiment demonstrates many of its basic principles. Thomas Young performed the first double-slit experiment in 1801. He demonstrated the wave behavior of light. It can be upgraded to demonstrate the principles of quantum mechanics and lightelectrons'wave-particle dual nature.

In the original double-slit experiment, a coherent beam of light, such asLaseror polarized light, is projected through a screen with two vertical slits. You might intuitively think that the resulting light pattern on the other side of the screen would be as if there were two light sources, with a single bright area where the two sources get brighter together and dim at the edges. That does not happen. Instead, alternating bands of light and dark areas are created. Like the two waves in the pond, the result is stronger in some places and weaker in others, an interference pattern.

The double-slit experiment is beginning to show the effects of quantum mechanics when it's just onePhotonwill be released at the same time. If photographic film is placed on the other side of the screen and many photons are emitted one after another, what is the resulting pattern?

Again, you can intuitively think that because there is only one photon going, it must go through one slit or the other, and there is no photon from the other slit to interact with. And therefore there is no interference pattern. However, the results again show a general interference pattern.

The single photon somehow passed both slits simultaneously and interacted or interfered with itself. This shows that the quantum interference occurred while the photon was in motion.

What is quantum interference and how does it work? – Definition of technological objective (2)

According to quantum mechanics, the single photon did not split in half or go through both slits. Instead, it existed simultaneously at all possible points at once. This is known asoverlap. The photon only finally decided where it was when it stuck to the photographic film. The superposition state or quantum wave state collapsed and the photon was isolated at a single position.

This also helps illustrate Heisenberg's idea.beginning of uncertainty. During the journey, the particle had a speed; hence its position could not be determined. Once it hit the film, its position became fixed and its speed became immeasurable.

In the final phase of the double-slit experiment, a detector is placed in one of the slits to determine through which slit the photon travels. The presence of the detector makes the location of the photon known and therefore the photon's probability wave collapses, causing the photon to stop interfering with itself. No interference pattern can be seen in the final output. This clarifies the principle that measuring a quantum system can change the result. When a random measurement causes a collapse or unwanted change in a quantum system, it is called aquantum decoherence.

The Mach-Zehnder interferometer isAnother tryshows the same effects as the double-slit experiment. He uses beam splitters and photon detectors to illustrate the superposition of single photons and the effect of the measurement in a quantum system. It is more commonly used in mathematical explanations because it can be expressed using simpler algebra.

Quantum interference in quantum computers

Quantum interference is beneficial in quantum computers and is used to perform calculations. It is important to note that quantum computers are not always exact systems with definitive results; Instead, they use probability to come up with approximate or most likely results. Quantum computers also countQubitSpin states or energy levels, not positions.

The qubits are first built in a quantum computer. These qubits are then put into a superposition state. Quantum interference can be used to program the systemoperatorÖdoors. The interference increases the likelihood of the qubit system, making the right answer more likely and the wrong answer less likely.

Illustrate how quantum computers work

To illustrate how quantum computers work, imagine that theBitsOn a computer they are coins, and heads and tails are one and zero. in oneclassic calculator, you would place the coins on a table and by moving and flipping them according to the final rules, you would get a final score. This is an example of an idealized.turingMachine.

However, in a quantum computer, you take the coins and the qubits and throw them up in the air where they spin. When the coins land, check heads and tails to get the answer. Of course, randomly tossing coins and getting random answers isn't helpful, so quantum computers have more tricks up their sleeves.

Now imagine that the coins are magnets and can rotate indefinitely in the air. While you are in the air you can do different things to control the coins:

  • Coins can interact with each other by flipping one. This illustrates how quantum entanglement causes qubits to affect each other.
  • You can place other magnets around the coins to make certain outcomes more likely than others. This illustrates how quantum interference can be used to steer outcomes towards the desired outcome.
  • You can use other magnets to make certain coins go through certain spins or have certain orientations. This is how quantum gates cause changes to a qubit to program its state.

By combining entanglement, interference and gates, you can trick the coins into doing a calculation. When the coins land, they most likely have the correct result of heads and tails. However, because there is an element of probability, you may only be 99.99% sure of the results, so you should do the same process many times to build your confidence.

This also illustrates the potential time savings of quantum computers. Imagine how long it would take you to do a calculation by hand using 128 coins as a numerator. Now imagine if you could do the same calculation by tossing all 128 coins and letting them land on the correct answer.

What is quantum interference and how does it work? – Definition of technological objective (3)

Real world example of using quantum interference in a quantum computer

Grover's algorithmis a popular example of the superiority of quantum computing using quantum interference. It is a search function that can return the matching result from a random unordered list by simultaneously evaluating all possible states at once. uses atransform diffusionand aQuantenorakelinfluencing the qubits towards the right result in several iterations.

A classic computer would have to evaluate each result individually. On average, if the list contains N elements, it takes a classical computer N/2 tries to find the answer, while Grover's algorithm takes √N steps on a quantum computer.

What is quantum interference and how does it work? – Definition of technological objective (4)

Grover's algorithm is primarily a textbook example and does not yet demonstrate true quantum superiority. This is because the oracle must be pre-programmed with some knowledge of the problem space. Furthermore, it offers only a relatively modest quadratic improvement in speed over a classical computing approach compared to other quantum computing algorithms that can deliver exponentially faster results.

It could still beused against modern symmetric encryption schemesto speed up brute force cracking attempts. As a result, larger encryption keys are now required and usedPost-Quantum Cryptography.

LearnFive quick quantum computing terms, exploreSeven possible future applications of quantum computing, Watch theDifferences between classical and quantum computingand lookChallenges and opportunities of quantum computing.

This was last updated onFebruary 2023

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