Yale might be able to save Schrödinger's Cat

Schrödinger's cat is a paradox that is used to illustrate the concept of superposition. This is the ability of two opposite states to exist at the same time. The idea behind Schrödinger's cat is that if a cat were placed into a sealed box with a radioactive source and a poison triggered if an atom of the radioactive substance decays when someone opens the box the cat is caused to abruptly change its state randomly forcing it to be either alive or dead.

The quantum jump is the discrete, non-continuous, and random change of the state when it is observed. Yale researchers have figured out how to catch and save Schrödinger's cat by anticipating its jumps and acting in real time. The experiment was performed in the lab of Yale professor Michel Devoret and peers into the workings of a quantum jump for the first time.

The scientists note that their results contradict Danish physicist Niels Bohr's established view by finding that the jumps are neither abrupt nor as random as believed. The team says that a quantum jump is a sudden transition from one discrete energy states to another of a qubit. In the development of quantum computers, researchers have to deal with jumps of the qubit, which are manifestations of errors in calculations. The Yale experiment was inspired by the work of professor Howard Carmichael of the University of Auckland, a co-author of the study.

The discovery also has the potential to be a major advancement in the understanding and controlling of quantum information. The team notes that reliably managing quantum data and correcting errors is critical in developing fully useful quantum computers.

The team indirectly monitored a superconducting artificial atom using a microwave generator irradiating the atom enclosed in a 3D cavity made of aluminum. The microwave radiation stirs the artificial atom as it is simultaneously being observed, resulting in quantum jumps. That tiny signal can be amplified without loss to room temperature allowing monitoring in real time. This real-time monitoring allowed the team to see a sudden absence of detection photons that is the advance warning of a quantum jump.