how to see objects without looking at them with quantum mechanics

There are researchers at Aalto University, researching quantum mechanics, who used quantum coherence to see objects without looking at them - just like Nio in the Matrix.

Quantum Mechanics Seeing Objects

The way we humans see things is done through cells in our retina that absorb light. You can see without any absorption of light or even a photon - can you believe that?

Let's say you have a camera cartridge that can hold a roll of photographic film. Then, this film is so delicate that even a single photon could damage it. When you use conventional methods, it is impossible to determine if there's film in the cartridge.

In the quantum world, it can be achieved. Anton Zeilinger, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics 2022 was the first to experimentally implement the idea of an interaction-free experiment using optics.

There was a study exploring the connection between quantum and the "normal" or classical world by Shruti Dogra, John J. McCord, and Gheorghe Sorin Paraoanu of Aalto University, and they discovered a new and much more effective way to carry out interaction-free experiments.

The team of those three scientists used transmon devices, which are superconducting circuits, that are relatively large but still show quantum behavior, to detect the presence of microwave pulses generated by normal instruments. Their research is in Nature Communications.

Seeing is Believing

Dogra and Paraoanu were fascinated by the work done by Zeilinger's research group, and their lab is centered around microwaves and superconductors rather than lasers and mirrors. They said that they had to adapt the concept to the different experimental tools available for superconducting devices - and that because of that they had to change the standard interaction-free protocol in a crucial way.

They added another layer of quantumness by using a higher energy level of the transmon. Then, they used the quantum coherence of the resulting three-level system as a resource.

Quantum coherence refers to the possibility that an object can occupy two different states at the same time. This is something that quantum physics allows for. Quantum coherence is delicate and easily collapses, so it wasn't immediately obvious that the new protocol would work.

The team ran the first runs of the experiment, and it showed a marked increase in detection efficiency.

In quantum computing, this method could be applied for diagnosing microwave-photon states in various memory elements. This is a highly efficient way of getting information without disruption of the quantum processor.

Quantum physics are tough for humans to understand, that's for sure ;)