QCS - Quantum Correlation in Space
Quantum mechanics makes a number of predictions, that are in stark contrast to our intuition of the world around us. The most essential ingredient of these counterintuitive predictions is entanglement (correlations between particles), a property of groups of particles that exists independent of their spatial and temporal separation.
Entanglement can be used to show that any 'intuitive' theory (where the properties of particles are well defined and interacting particles exchange some force) is not consistent with the world. Up to now no one has conclusively shown this.
Entanglement must also be tested over length scales far beyond current laboratory experiments to check the universal validity of quantum mechanics. The work presented here is an important stepping stone to a proposed Space-QUEST mission, which would utilise satellites to make such experiments possible.
The counterintuitive features of quantum mechanics are not only of theoretical interest, they can be used to for tasks, that would otherwise not be possible, most notably quantum cryptography (the sending of information in an absolutely secure way) and quantum computation (solving problems using quantum systems).
The technology created to complete this work can be used to directly aid research in these fields and also serves as a proof of principle for future experiments in space. Such experiments would both allow quantum tasks to be distributed throughout the world and also open the door for a new generation of experiments on a scale far beyond the capabilities of any earth- bound experiments.
The work presented here was possible due to a number of national and international collaborations and support, most notably with the help of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG).
Austrian Academy of Sciences, IQOQI Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information - Rupert Ursin