Quantum Weaving: Could Research Into Non-Classical Paths Provide Solutions For Quantum Decoherence?

An Indian team from the Raman Research Institute and Indian Institute of Science have devised and implemented a series of experiments that could reveal the effects of, what is termed, ‘non-classical paths’ within quantum diffraction patterns.

This effect, if found, was first highlighted by the Japanese physicist Haruichi Yabuki (1986), and could provide vital insights into reducing decoherence effects within certain types of quantum information systems.

Particles following 'non-classical paths' through a triple slit experiment

1. Particle following a ‘Non-Classical Path’ (blue) within a triple-slit experiment

Commenting on Young’s famous double slit experiment, Yabuki pointed out that non classical quantum paths could have a tiny effect on the resulting diffraction pattern that rendered the original calculations ‘approximate’, therefore would need to be integrated into the standard wave function calculations to produce a more accurate result.

Historically neglected, potential non-classical paths have not proved to be a problem so far in the development of technology, but as an ever increasing amount of quantum systems are being researched, designed and implemented negative decoherence effects are becoming increasingly more important to solve.

The Indian team initially calculated the potential deviations for the first time in history using Richard Feyman’s ‘path integral formulation’ of quantum mechanics, which show that quantum paths can weave through experimental slits (see 1) as well as taking direct paths to distant detector screens. Although these effects have never been physically revealed before, detection should be possible using particles of specifically defined frequencies. Utilising different widths and separations in their expanded three slit experiments they hope to show that photons/electrons in the microwave frequency range should produce detectable effects.

Historical experiments to prove their existence, using visible light, were carried out in 2010 by a team from the University of Waterloo but no additional path contributions were found.

The Indian team have shown that the approximate superposition deviations using visible light would be by a factor of 10-5 —which, as Hamish Johnston from the institute of physics highlights is ‘too small to be detected’, and was likely to be the reason why non-classical paths were shown not to exist in that instance—although using microwave particles should bring the deviation factor into the detectable range of, 10-3.

Experiments are currently in progress so results are not yet available, but it is hoped that positive feedback could help to provide decoherence solutions for the development of quantum systems in the near future.

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Paul Hattle

As a strong advocate for science and learning, I am a passionate supporter of the 'Campaign for Science and Engineering' (CaSE) Fellow of the 'Royal Astronomical Society' (RAS) Associate Member of the 'Institute of Physics' (IOP) & 'The Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators' (ISTC)

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