The “spooky physics” of the quantum world has long been marked by two key ideas: the idea of superposition, meaning that a quantum particle can exist in multiple states simultaneously, and the idea of randomness, meaning that it’s impossible to predict when certain quantum transitions will take place.
Writing in the journal Nature, Zlatko Minev and colleagues report that they may be able to make the quantum behavior slightly less mysterious. By using a sensitive form of continuous monitoring, they’ve been able to identify signs that a quantum leap is imminent in an artificial atom. The timing of the leap is still completely random—the researchers can’t predict when it will happen—but they do get a warning flag of an upcoming jump a few microseconds before it occurs. And if they are able to spot an upcoming leap, they can apply the correct stimulus to prevent that jump from occuring in the first place.
Minev joins Ira to talk about the finding, and what new directions it might open up in quantum research.