Confining the state of light to a quantum manifold by engineered two-photon loss

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Science  20 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6224, pp. 853-857
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa2085

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A way to induce quantum stability

Dynamical systems, whether classical or quantum, usually require a method to stabilize performance and maintain the required state. For instance, communication between computers requires error correction codes to ensure that information is transferred correctly. In a quantum system, however, the very act of measuring it can perturb it. Leghtas et al. show that engineering the interaction between a quantum system and its environment can induce stability for the delicate quantum states, a process that could simplify quantum information processing.

Science, this issue p. 853


Physical systems usually exhibit quantum behavior, such as superpositions and entanglement, only when they are sufficiently decoupled from a lossy environment. Paradoxically, a specially engineered interaction with the environment can become a resource for the generation and protection of quantum states. This notion can be generalized to the confinement of a system into a manifold of quantum states, consisting of all coherent superpositions of multiple stable steady states. We have confined the state of a superconducting resonator to the quantum manifold spanned by two coherent states of opposite phases and have observed a Schrödinger cat state spontaneously squeeze out of vacuum before decaying into a classical mixture. This experiment points toward robustly encoding quantum information in multidimensional steady-state manifolds.

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