Scientists discover new way to listen to quantum radio

Scientists discover new way to listen to quantum radio
This quantum chip (1x1 cm big) allows the researchers to listen to the smallest radio signal allowed by quantum mechanics. Credit: TU Delft.

In a new study, researchers created a new quantum circuit that can help them detect the weakest radio signal.

The research was conducted by a team from Delft University of Technology, Netherland.

Weak radio signals can be a challenge for daily work, for example, in hospital scanning situations that require magnetic resonance imaging MRI or astronomy observations that need radio telescopes.

In the current study, the team showed that they could detect photons or quanta of energy, which are the weakest signals allowed by quantum mechanics.

According to theories of quantum mechanics, energy comes in tiny little chunks called ‘quanta’. The quanta can be too small to notice, and radio signals are like that.

In the study, the researchers used their new quantum circuit to detect these chunks of energy in radio frequency signals.

The findings suggest the potential to detect radio waves at the quantum level.

The new finding may help scientists explore the interplay between quantum mechanics and gravity.

It may also help develop future applications in areas such as radio astronomy and medicine (MRI scanning).

The team now is trying to take quantum mechanics to the next level: mass. They wanted to use their quantum circuits to listen to and control the quantum vibrations of heavy objects.

They hope to explore what will happen when gravity is mixed with quantum mechanics.

The leader of the study is Prof. Gary Steele in Delft.

The study is published in Science.

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