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One piece closer to a working electronic quantum computer puzzle kit.

Many believe the next generation of supercomputers will be powered by quantum mechanics. Harnessing the strange properties of photons and electrons in special states is often the backbone for quantum computer research. Some of these seemingly exotic properties have already been demonstrated using photons, but until very recently, were not replicated in solid-state systems by electrons.

A group of European researchers, consisting of institutions from France, Spain and Germany, has published their work with quantum entanglement using electron (Cooper) pairs, quantum dots and carbon nanotubes. Quantum entanglement is a quantum state of matter where two particles, typically photons or electrons, form a matched pair based on their physical qualities such as up or down spin for electrons and polarization for photons. When a pair of these particles becomes entangled, quantum mechanics states that measuring one of the pair will instantly force the unmeasured into a corresponding state, regardless of the distance they have been separated by.

In photonics work, researchers used wave guides and polarization filters to form entangled photons, which can then be separated by a beam splitter and measured individually. But for electrons, the work is far more taxing. Measurements are more easily skewed by background noise and leakage from the components of the test device.

The solid-state device used to confirm electron quantum entanglement is fairly simple in design. A superconducting element is used to form Cooper pairs. The pairs then move down the element towards a carbon nanotube. Occasionally the pair is split by the nanotube and each electron moves towards a separate quantum dot. In this time, one electron’s spin can be measured, which infers the spin of its mate instantaneously. These pairs can either be spin-correlated or anti-spin-correlated (spinning in the same direction or opposite directions), but the measurement of one always reveals the properties of the other.

Quantum entanglement could be very useful in theory, especially for quantum computing in the areas of security and data transmission. Theoretically, data can be transferred over any distance instantly and without any risk of security breech, however, the entangled pair still has to be transferred through physical media at this time.

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By Torment on 1/13/2010 8:57:16 PM , Rating: 2
An important distinction is that the electron is not both both up and down at the same. Rather, their wave function is in some admixture of states corresponding to up or down. The electron isn't spin up or spin down until you observe it, the act of which collapses the wave function. This is a probabilistic event, meaning that if the wave functions were in an equal admixture, it's a coin toss whether the electron ends up as spin up or spin down.

So, if I understand your question, the electrons, prior to observation, have no (spin) state. It only has wave functions corresponding to physical states. In the example given, those wave functions have equal probabilities, so that when you observe a stream of electron1's, it will have a random distribution of spin-up and spin-down. Because they are entangled, observing electron1 will force electron2 into opposing state, but to the observer of electron2, it is still purely random, even though it is deterministic at this point.

If, however, you could measure whether a wave-state had been collapsed *prior* to your observing it(and you were careful about timing, as doing so is surely an act of observation and you want observer1 to observe first), observer1 could then send signals in the form of stream segments that were either observed or unobserved on his end. Unfortunately, that is not knowable, so still no action at a distance.

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