winners lay foundations for ‘new age of quantum technology’; understand

ON Nobel Prize in Physics 2022 it was awarded this Tuesday, the 4th, to scholars Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger. The three were recognized for independently performed work that “laid the foundation for a new era of quantum technology,” according to the prize’s organizing committee. The research paved the way for a new generation computers and also for systems cryptography inviolable.

THE quantum mechanics describes the behavior of subatomic particles. It is a field of science that began to be explored only at the beginning of the 20th century. The laureate’s work is especially based on one of the most important aspects of this physics, the concept of quantum entanglement (or entanglement).

Entanglement occurs when two or more particles—usually photons, particles of light—are tightly bound together even though they are not physically connected, even when they are at great distances. This common state can be related to the energy of the particles.

They called the strange phenomenon Albert Einstein of “spooky action at a distance”. Many years later, probably because of this “spooky” characteristic, the plot was appropriated by mystics of various professions. For a moment, he was put aside by more distinguished physicists.

“Entanglement involves stronger correlations than classical correlations,” explained physicist Luiz Davidovich, professor emeritus at UFRJ, former president of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. “So much so that if we try to study quantum correlations with classical physics, we fail. And that is not trivial. Einstein himself tried to explain the phenomenon with classical physics, the hypothesis of hidden variables.”

The laureate’s research was based on theoretical work John Stewart Bell. In the 1960s, this physicist devoted himself to understanding how particles separated by great distances—to the point where there could be no normal communication between them—continue to work in sync. Experiments later conducted by Aspect, Clauser and Zeilinger showed that the phenomenon is real and can have practical applications.

“John Bell made a theorem, which is one of the most important in quantum physics, that had been neglected for a long time,” says Davidovich. “Aspect and Clauser did experiments with photon pairs and showed that, in fact, classical physics cannot explain this phenomenon.”

But it wasn’t easy. When Aspect, then a PhD student, told John Bell that he intended to perform the proposed experiment, the older physicist’s response was surprising: “Don’t do it, you’ll end your career, nobody else is going to take you anywhere else.” really.”

Although he was only a student, Aspect confronted the scientific community at large and Bell himself in order to conduct the experiment. “I’ll go that route, even if it means I’ll never have a job,” he reportedly said.

Clauser followed suit and perfected the experiment. Zeilinger went even further, working with entangled states involving not just two photons, but several, at even greater distances.

Announcement of the winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics Take photos:

Some of Zeilinger’s experiments from the 2000s have become quite famous. He showed correlations of particles over long distances. Like from one bank of the Danube to the other in Austria, and between islands in the Atlantic Ocean that are separated by more than a hundred kilometers.

Professor at the UFRJ Institute of Physics, Gabriela Barreto Lemos, did her post-doctorate in Austria, from 2012 to 2016, with Zeilinger.

“The work of the three of them has been crucial to this new phase of quantum technologies that we are currently experiencing and which will transform human lives,” said Gabriela Lemos.

“And it is important to say that these are basic papers in physics. Currently, there is pressure to fund only work that can be immediately turned into technology. These three would never do this research under such pressure. The works, originally, had no application, they were fundamental physical works, aimed at the development of science, at understanding the world.”

Two areas in particular are getting a lot of attention these days. One of them is quantum computing, which promises significant progress in solving complex problems.

The second is cryptography – the creation of security codes to protect information. Using the principle of “quantum entanglement” makes it possible to create invulnerable systems. According to experts, in order to break these systems, it would have to be possible to break the laws of physics themselves.

“For a long time, the foundations of quantum physics were considered crazy, whoever worked with them was considered crazy,” recalled Professor Rafael Chaves, from the International Institute of Physics at Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN).

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“Today, quantum theory plays a central role in revolutionizing technology and the way we process information. Even compared to our biggest current supercomputers, quantum physics is more efficient. It closes the cycle from basic to applied science.”

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