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641 views2 pagesIn an attempt to rule out any kind of communication between entangled particles, physicists from the University of Geneva have sent two entangled photons traveling to different towns located 18 km apart – the longest distance for this type of quantum measurement. The distance enabled the physicists to completely finish performing their quantum measurements at each detector before any information could have time to travel between the two towns.

Jul 14, 2009

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In an attempt to rule out any kind of communication between entangled particles, physicists from the University of Geneva have sent two entangled photons traveling to different towns located 18 km apart – the longest distance for this type of quantum measurement. The distance enabled the physicists to completely finish performing their quantum measurements at each detector before any information could have time to travel between the two towns.

Attribution Non-Commercial (BY-NC)

641 views

In an attempt to rule out any kind of communication between entangled particles, physicists from the University of Geneva have sent two entangled photons traveling to different towns located 18 km apart – the longest distance for this type of quantum measurement. The distance enabled the physicists to completely finish performing their quantum measurements at each detector before any information could have time to travel between the two towns.

Attribution Non-Commercial (BY-NC)

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Daniel Salart (1), Jeroen van Houwelingen, Augustin Baas, Cyril Branciard, Hugo Zbinden, and Nicolas Gisin

Group of Applied Physics, University of Geneva, 20 Rue de l’Ecole de Médecine, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland

1: daniel.salart@unige.ch

Abstract

We performed a long-distance Bell experiment with simultaneous detection events and the axis between the

detectors approximately east–west oriented. Two-photon interferences with visibilities well above the Bell

inequality threshold were continuously observed. The rotation of the Earth and the configuration of the experiment

allowed us to set a lower bound on the “speed of quantum information” up to four orders of magnitude faster than

the speed of light. Moreover, the same experimental setup, with the addition that each detected photon triggered

the displacement of a macroscopic mass, was used to test the hypothesis that the measurement time is related to

gravity-induced state reduction. The results confirm the non-local nature of quantum correlations.

Introduction and motivation

(see Figure 1).

Entanglement is one of the most important features of

At the same time, these experiments also addressed

quantum mechanics. According to quantum theory,

the very difficult and deep question of where (or

entanglement is at the origin of the quantum

when) the wave function collapse takes place. In one

correlations between two distant events that violate

experiment (3) we assumed that the collapse takes

the Bell inequalities. A hypothetical alternative

place in the reference frame determined by the

explanation would be that a first event influenced the

massive measuring detectors. The two apparatuses

second, through a hypothetical influence that travelled

are in relative motion so that both detectors, each in

between the two. In this case, the speed of this

its own inertial reference frame, are first to perform

influence would need to be defined in some privileged

the measurement. We did not observe any

reference frame and be greater than the speed of

disappearance of the correlations, in agreement with

light. Einstein branded it as ‘spooky action at a

quantum mechanics.

distance’.

In another experiment (4), we used acousto-optic

To test this possibility, we could perform a Bell

modulators as moving beam splitters and

experiment where the two detection events are

interferometers separated by 55 m. Again, the results

simultaneous in a certain hypothetically privileged

are in agreement with quantum mechanics.

reference frame. Because the speed of the influence

must be finite, it can not arrive on time and no z

N ω

violation of Bell inequalities should be observed.

In the past, we used the results of previous Bell χ

→

experiments where quantum correlations were v

B● y

observed, to set a lower bound on this speed (let’s

call it ”speed of quantum information”) to 107 times x α

●

the speed of light in the Geneva reference frame (1) A

4

and 10 in the background radiation reference frame

(2). Hence, only two different reference frames were

tested. z'

Note that if the two events are simultaneous in some F

y'

reference frame, then they are also simultaneous with x'

respect to any reference frame moving in a direction

perpendicular to the line joining the two events. So, in

a long-distance Bell test performed over a period of Figure 1: The Earth frame moves with respect to a

12 hours, with the axis between the detectors (A-B hypothetically privileged reference frame F at a speed v. The

axis) east-west oriented, if the events were zenith angle Χ between v and the z axis can have values

simultaneous in the Earth’s reference frame, then between 0° and 180°. The A–B axis forms an angle α with the

they would also be simultaneous with respect to all equatorial (x–y) plane. ω is the angular speed of the Earth.

frames moving in the plane perpendicular to the east–

west axis. In 12 hours, all possible hypothetically Main achievements

privileged frames would be scanned. If the A-B axis Recently, we performed a Bell experiment (5)

was almost but no perfectly east-west oriented, the between two villages separated by 18 km,

approximately east–west oriented, and with the

source located precisely in the middle. We adjusted displacement of a macroscopic mass. The timing

the lengths of the fibres linking the source with the ensures space-like separation from the moment a

detectors so the two events were simultaneous. photon enters its interferometer until the mass has

Two-photon interferences with visibilities well above moved. Two-photon interference fringes with a

the Bell inequality threshold were continuously visibility of up to 90.5% are obtained, leading once

observed. After 24 hours, the rotation of the Earth and again to the violation of the Bell inequalities.

the configuration of our experiment allowed us to

Conclusions

determine, for any hypothetically privileged frame, a

lower bound for the speed of a hypothetical influence In all the experiments we performed, the results

travelling between the two detection stations. For confirm the non-local nature of quantum correlations.

instance, if the Earth’s speed in this privileged frame An explanation based on “spooky action at a

-3

is less than 10 times that of the speed of light, then distance” would have to assume that the hypothetical

the speed of the influence would have to be at least influence propagates at speeds even greater than the

four orders of magnitude greater than that of light. bounds obtained in our experiments.

Finally, in another recent experiment (6) the two References

events are space-like separated and we consider the

1. Zbinden et al J. Phys. A, 34, (2001), 7103-7109

hypothesis that the measurement time is related to

gravity-induced state reduction. This is, the collapse 2. Scarani et al Phys. Lett. A, 276 (2000), 1-7

of the wave function only takes place just after a 3. Zbinden et al Phys. Rev. A, 63 (2001), 022111

macroscopic mass has moved, modifying its 4. Stefanov et al Phys. Rev. Lett., 88 (2002), 120404

surrounding gravitational field. Two energy-time

5. Salart et al Nature, 454 (2008), 861-864

entangled photons are sent through optical fibres and

directed into unbalanced interferometers at two 6. Salart et al Phys. Rev. Lett., 100 (2008), 220404

receiving stations separated by 18 km. At each

station, the detection of a photon triggers the

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