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Distillation of Vacuum Entanglement to EPR Pairs

Distillation of Vacuum Entanglement to EPR Pairs

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Distillation of vacuum entanglement to EPR pairs
Benni Reznik
School of Physics and Astronomy, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel.
(01 Aug. 2000)It is shown that by means of local interactions between aquantized relativistic field and a pair of non-entangled atoms,entanglement can be extracted from the vacuum and deliv-ered to the atoms. The resulting mixed state of the atomscan be further distilled to EPR pairs. Therefore, in principle,teleportation and other entanglement assisted quantum com-munication tasks can rely on the vacuum alone as a resourcefor entanglement.
The correlations between observables measured sepa-rately on a pair of entangled systems can be “stronger”compared to the correlations predicted by local “realis-tic” models [1]. Hence quantum mechanics manifests anon-local behavior which is nevertheless not in conflictwith macroscopic causality. In accordance with this non-locality, entanglement cannot be produced locally: a pairof separated systems which may communicate only via aclassical channel, cannot become entangled as a result of local quantum operations done separately on each sys-tem. Nevertheless, when entanglement already exists, itmay be locally redistributed or delivered from one subsys-tem to another. For instance, a sample of pairs of spins,described by a non-maximally entangled pure state, oran inseparable [2] mixed state, can be “distilled” (puri-fied) [3,4], to singlets (EPR pairs) and remnants of non- entangled states.In this Letter I introduce another process of entan-glement manipulation which takes place between a rel-ativistic quantum field, such the electro-magnetic field,in its ground state (vacuum) and a pair of initially non-entangled atoms. In this process, each atom interactslocally for a finite duration with the field, and as a con-sequence the atoms evolve to an inseparable, and henceentangled, mixed state. Since the process takes placein two space-like separated spacetime regions, and sinceentanglement cannot be produced locally, this demon-strates that: a) entanglement exists in the vacuum be-tween space-like separated regions [7,8], and that b) vac-uum entanglement can be extracted and delivered into aspace-like separated pair of atoms.A sample of entangled pairs, generated in this fashion,may be further distilled to a smaller sample of maximallyentangled EPR pairs (E-bits), and subsequently used forquantum communication tasks. Hence, I conclude thatin principle, teleportation [5], dense coding [6], or other entanglement assisted communication tasks, can rely onthe vacuum alone as a resource of entanglement, withouthaving to deal with local preparation of E-bits and thesubsequent physical delivery via a quantum channel.It is known that field observables in vacuum at space-like separated points are correlated. For massless fieldsthese correlations decay with the distance,
L
, betweentwo points as 1
/L
2
(or as
e
mL
for massive fields of mass
m
). These correlations by themselves do not neces-sitate the existence of quantum entanglement, becausethey can in principle arise as classical correlations. How-ever, a number of studies provide clear evidence that thevacuum is indeed entangled [7,8], and that these correla- tions are related to vacuum entanglement [9]. Using theRindler modes quantization, one can span the Hilbertspace of a free field by direct product of Rindler particlenumber states
|
n,
1
and
|
n,
2
in the two complemen-tary space-like separated wedges
x <
−|
t
|
and
x > t
,respectively. It then turns out [7] that the ordinary(Minkowski) vacuum state can be expressed as an EPR-like state
n
α
n
|
n,
1
|
n,
2
for each frequency. Theresulting correlations in the number operators can be ob-served by a pair of opposite accelerated detectors, one ineach such wedge. In a somewhat different framework, of algebraic quantum field theory, it has been shown [8] thatlocal field observables in two space-like separated regionsviolate Bell’s inequalities and hence must be entangled.Here I make one step further, and show that for a prop-erly chosen fixed interaction between a pair of atoms andthe vacuum, the atoms evolve to a mixed entangled state.To motivate our approach, let us first examine qualita-tively a simple problem of emission and absorption for apair of time-like separated atoms. Suppose that initiallyatom
A
is in its first excited state, denoted by
|
A
, andatom
B
is in its ground state
|
B
. After some time,atom
A
emits a photon, which may be captured by atomB. The system evolves to
|
Ψ
|
A
B
+
α
|
A
B
|
0
+
β 
|
A
B
|
γ 
(1)The second term proportional to
α
, is generated by an“exchange” process wherein a photon is emitted by
A
absorbed by
B
, and the field is left in its original vacuumstate
|
0
. The last term, corresponds to emission, hencethe field’s final state,
|
γ 
, contains one photon. Note thatif later one observes that no photon was emitted, thelast term is elliminated, and leaves
A
and
B
in a pureentangled state
|
A
B
+
α
|
A
B
. Otherwise, withoutobserving the field, the atoms remain entangled to thefield. Nevertheless, it can be verified (see below) thatthe reduced density matrix of the atoms is inseparable,and hence entangled. This comes to us as no surprise,because in the above process a single photon (qubit), hasbeen causally exchanged between the atoms.However what happens if the atoms are coupled to thefield for a short enough time keeping the atoms causally1
 
disconnected? To examine this case in more detail, let usconsider for simplicity a free massless relativistic scalarfield
φ
(
x,t
) and couple it to a pair of two-level systems,with an energy gap Ω, via the interaction Hamiltonian
int
=
A
+
B
=
ǫ
A
(
t
)(
e
+
i
t
σ
+
A
+
e
i
t
σ
A
)
φ
(
x
A
,t
)+
ǫ
B
(
t
)(
e
+
i
t
σ
+
B
+
e
i
t
σ
B
)
φ
(
x
B
,t
) (2)Here
σ
±
are the atom energy-levels raising and loweringoperators, the window functions
ǫ
A
(
t
) and
ǫ
B
(
t
) are non-zero only for a duration
such that
T < x
B
x
A
(
c
= 1),and
x
A
=
L/
2 and
x
B
=
L/
2 are fixed locations.
  x  -   t   =    0
x   +   t   =   0   
PAPB
FIG. 1. The horizontal direction is space, and the verticaldirection time. The atoms, A and B, are initially in theirground state (
). They are coupled for time
to the field,and then Purified (P).
Since the interaction takes place in two causally discon-nected spacetime regions, the field operators in
A
and
B
commute, and [
A
,
B
] = 0. Therefore, the evolu-tion operator
for the whole system may be written (inthe interaction representation) as a product
=
e
i
 
A
(
t
)
dt
i
 
B
(
t
)
dt
=
e
i
 
A
(
t
)
dt
×
e
i
 
B
(
t
)
dt
(3)This ensures that
does not change the net entangle-ment between the two wedges, it can only redistribute itbetween the local observables within each wedge.Consider now the initial state where the atoms andthe field are in their ground state:
|
Ψ
i
=
|
A
|
B
|
0
.To see how
|
Ψ
i
evolves, I will assume that the couplingfunctions
ǫ
i
(
t
) (
i
=
A,B
) are small, and expand
tosecond order. Using the notationΦ
±
i
=
 
dtǫ
i
(
t
)
e
±
i
t
φ
(
x
i
,t
) (4)the final states is
|
Ψ
=
(
1
A
Φ
+
A
B
Φ
+
B
)
|
Φ
+
A
Φ
+
B
|
i
Φ
+
A
1
B
|
i
1
A
Φ
+
B
|
|
0
+
O
3
) (5)where
denotes time ordering. In the first term abovethe state of the atoms is unchanged. In the second term,both atoms are excited, and the field remains in the state
|
AB
Φ
+
A
Φ
+
B
|
0
. Since
|
AB
contains either two orzero photons, it describes either an emission of two pho-tons, or an exchange of a single “off-shell” photon be-tween the atoms (Fig. 2). Finally, the last two termsdescribe an emission of one photons either by atom
A
or
B
. In this case the final state of the field is
|
A
Φ
+
A
|
0
,or
|
B
Φ
+
B
|
0
, respectively.
B
γ 
AB
ε ε ε+
2
ABBAA
+
γ γ 
FIG. 2. Emission and exchange processes.
Tracing over the field degrees of freedom, and usingthe basis
{|
i
,
|
 j
}
=
{↓↓
,
↑↑
,
↑↓
,
↓↑}
, and the notation
|
AB
|
2
=
AB
|
AB
, I find that to the lowest orderthe atoms (reduced) density matrix
ρ
=
1
−
AB
|
0
0 0
−
0
|
AB
|
AB
|
2
0 00 0
|
A
|
2
B
|
A
0 0
A
|
B
|
B
|
2
(6)Note two types of off-diagonal matrix elements. In theupper block, the amplitude
0
|
AB
acts as to maintaincoherence between the
|
A
B
and the
|
A
B
states.In the lower block,
A
|
B
acts to maintain coherencebetween
|
A
B
and
|
A
B
. The relative magnitude of these off-diagonal terms, compared to the diagonal (de-coherence) terms determines if the density matrix is sep-arable.A sufficient condition [10] for inseparability is that thematrix obtained by taking the partial transpose [11] of 
ρ
,is non-positive. (For a 2
×
2 system this is also a necessarycondition [12]). I find that (6) is inseparable if either of  the following inequalities is satisfied
|
0
|
AB
|
2
>
|
A
|
2
|
B
|
2
(7)or
|
B
|
A
|
2
>
|
AB
|
2
(8)The first inequality, (7), amounts for the requirementthat the single virtual photon exchange process, is moreprobable than an emission of one photon by each atom.Inseparability is then induced by states like
|
A
B
+
α
|
A
B
. Considering the second inequality (8), notethat
A
|
B
measures the overlap of a photons emittedby atom
A
and
B
. Hence it demands that this overlap is2
 
larger than
|
AB
|
2
. When the second condition is met,the main contribution to the entanglement arises fromstates like
|
A
B
+
β 
|
A
B
.So far I have considered only one possible initial stateof the atoms. What happens if we start with
|
A
,
B
or
|
A
,
B
? Repeating the calculation, and usingthe Cauchy-Schwartz inequality on the left-hand sideof (7), I get a necessary condition for inseparability:
0
|
Φ
i
Φ
+
i
|
0
>
0
|
Φ
+
i
Φ
i
|
0
, where
i
corresponds to theatom which is initially excited. But this demands thatthe excitation probability is larger then the de-excitationprobability:
(
↓→↑ |
0)
>
(
↑→↓ |
0), which cannot besatisfied in vacuum. Hence eq. (7) can be satisfied only if both atoms are initially in their ground state; otherwise,decoherence effects due to single photon emissions dom-inates over the exchange process. (Similar conclusionscan be reached for (8). Here one has to choose initialstates like
|
A
B
).In the following I will focus on the first inequality (7),which is simpler to evaluate. Specializing to the case
|
Ψ
i
=
|
A
B
|
0
, substituting
φ
(
x,t
), and integratingover time eq. (7) can be re-expressed as
 
0
L
sin(
ωL
ǫ
(
ω
Ω)˜
ǫ
(
ω
+ Ω)
>
 
0
ωdω
|
˜
ǫ
(Ω +
ω
)
|
2
(9)where ˜
ǫ
(
ω
) is the Fourier transform of 
ǫ
(
t
) =
ǫ
i
(
t
).The right hand side in the above inequality is indepen-dent of 
L
and tends to zero as Ω
. The left handside, depends on both
and
L
and decays like
1
/L
2
for
L >
. However for Ω
L
not too big, ˜
ǫ
(
ω
Ω) hasa sharp peak near
ω
= Ω, which enhances the exchangeamplitude. This suggests that there may exist a finitewindow of frequencies around some Ω
1
L
, where(7) can be satisfied.The following plots exhibit the ratio
AB
/E 
A
, for thewindow function (with
= 1)
ǫ
(
t
) =
cos
2
(
πt
)
,
for
|
t
|
1
/
20
,
for
|
t
|
>
1
/
2
(10)as a function of the energy gap Ω and the separation
L
between the atoms.
510 15 20 25
0.40.60.811.2X
E
FIG. 3. The ratio
X/E 
, with
L
=
= 1, as a function of the energy gap Ω.
1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4L0.60.81.2X
E
FIG. 4. The ratio
X/E 
, with
= 1 and Ω = 9
.
5, as afunction of the distance.
It follows from Fig. 3. that eq. (7) is satisfied for8
<
<
11. For a different distance
L
, one has toemploy atoms with appropriate Ω =
O
(1
/L
). It followsfrom Fig. 4. that the spatial region where entanglementpersists, extends up to
L/T <
1
.
1. This implies that themaximal space-like separation between the pair of space-time regions that affect the atoms can be extended up to
L
0
.
1
L
. These regions are generally much largerthan the latter maximal space-like separation, hence theatoms may be viewed as contained in the space-like rangeof a single coherent vacuum fluctuation. Pictorially, theinteraction with this single vacuum fluctuation, in somesense, “ties” the atoms together to an entangled state.So far I have considered stationary atoms. However,it turns out, that the problem becomes simpler to han-dle when the pair of atoms are uniformally acceleratingalong two “mirror” hyperbolic trajectories. A detaileddescription of this case will be given elsewhere [13]. HereI will use this set-up to provide an exact demonstrationthat the inequality eq. (7) can be satisfied.Let the atoms A and B follow the trajectories
x
A
=
L
2cosh2
τ 
A
L, x
B
=
L
2cosh2
τ 
B
Lt
A
=
L
2sinh2
τ 
A
L, t
B
=
L
2sinh2
τ 
B
L
(11)and
y
A
=
y
B
,
z
A
=
z
B
. As can be seen, the trajecto-ries of 
A
and
B
are confined to the two complementaryspace-like wedges
x <
−|
t
|
and
x > t
, respectively. Theacceleration along each trajectory is
a
= 2
/L
, and theproper times
τ 
A
and
τ 
B
in the rest frames of 
A
and
B
have been used to parameterize the trajectories.To adapt the interaction Hamiltonian (2) to thepresent case, one has to replace the time parameter bythe proper times of each atom, hence send
t
i
τ 
i
and
φ
φ
(
x
(
τ 
)
,t
(
τ 
)). The emission term then reads
|
A
|
2
=
 
dτ 
A
 
dτ 
A
e
i
Ω(
τ 
A
τ 
A
)
D
+
(
A
,A
) (12)and the exchange term
0
|
AB
=
 
dτ 
A
 
dτ 
B
e
i
Ω(
τ 
A
+
τ 
B
)
D
+
(
A,B
) (13)3

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