Quantum materials and technology

How can the quantum world change humanity?
Today, some hundred years after the discovery of the quantum world, it turns out that technologies that are based on the quantum world can outperform existing technologies at least in three arenae: (1) accurate sensing; (2) efficient and secured communication; and (3) computers that are capable of performing tasks that are impossible to complete otherwise.

How does a quantum-less world look like? In our day-to-day life, we are used to having physical principles that lead to understanding and predictions of events with complete certainty. For instance, if we wish to calculate the travel time on an airplane that flies from London to Tel Aviv, all we have to know is the distance between the two cities and the flight speed, and we could obtain the desired answer easily. Likewise, when we press the bottom in our camera while shooting a selfie, we know that the photo will contain the entire information that was placed in front of the lens. Again, with complete certainty.

What is quantum? Quantum mechanics was presented to the world some hundred years ago, and it opened for us a new world, which was not perceived by our senses earlier. In the quantum world, the airplane will not arrive from London to Tel Aviv at one specific absolute time. Rather, if the airplane was a quantum creature then it would have arrived with a certain probability after four hours, with another probability after five hours and with another probability after only two hours. As opposed to what we are used to from our everyday life, in the quantum world, all of these events occur simultaneously. That is, the flight lasts three hours, four hours and five hours simultaneously. Similarly, when we take a quantum selfie, then the photo both contains our face and does not contain our face at the same time.

How can the quantum world change humanity? Today, some hundred years after the discovery of the quantum world, it turns out that technologies that are based on the quantum world can outperform existing technologies at least in three arenae: (1) accurate sensing; (2) efficient and secured communication; and (3) computers that are capable of performing tasks that are impossible to complete otherwise.

Why can we not sense quantum effects in our day-to-day life? Scientists realized, already when quantum theory was just developed, that quantum effects become significant only at a very small lengthscale. A prominent example for significant quantum effects comprises the trajectory of an electrons that travels around the nuclear of a single atom. This trajectory takes place at the scale of one millionth of the diameter of the human hair, so it is that small. Because the size of our sensing organs (fingers, ears, eyes, tongue and nostrils) is about a couple of centimeters or an inch, they are much larger than a single atom, it is therefore easy to explain why we are not sensitive to quantum effects.

What are we looking for? Research labs in our Department develop, produce and characterize materials that preserve their quantum properties even at a lengthscale that is much larger than a single atom. In addition, we utilize these materials for novel quantum sensing, quantum communication and quantum technologies.

 

Asst. Prof. Yachin Ivry

‌‌‌‌‌‌Asst. Prof. Elad Koren