Smoothly breaking unitarity

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Smoothly breaking unitarity

Type: Master thesis
Title: Smoothly breaking unitarity
Author: Reep, T.H.A. van der
Issue Date: 2014-08-26
Keywords: Quantum to classical
Parametric amplifiers
Breaking unitarity
Abstract: In this proposal an experiment is envisioned that is principally able to determine whether there exists a fundamental transition between quantum mechanics (QM) and classical mechanics (CM). In the quantum realm spatial superpositions of a particle may exist, whereas these superpositions are not observed in the classical world. Many theories have been put forward to explain this difference. Of these, decoherence theories state that there is no explicit difference between QM and CM, but that quantum phenomena are extinguished upon increasing the coupling of the studied object to its environment. Other theories, however, predict that there is a fundamental scale - apart from the environmental coupling - at which spontaneous collapse of a superposition occurs. To test whether such a scale exists, it is proposed to build an interferometer that has a tuneable, coherent amplifier in each of its two arms. The interferometer is fed by a microwave single photon source that yields an entangled superposition of zero and one photon in the arms. The advantage of using microwave photons in a transmission line is that these are carried by electrons, which have a rest mass. Therefore, spontaneous collapse may be expected upon amplifying the superposition of the single photon to such an extent, that the QM-CM transition scale is exceeded. This set-up circumvents the limitation of contemporary experiments that study superpositions of objects fixed in size. By tuning the amplifiers one is now able to smoothly vary the size of the superposition, so that studying the transition scale and its nature becomes experimentally feasible. After introducing the theoretical ideas and the experimental status of the topic, this proposal elaborates on the research goal of the proposed experiment. Then, the method is presented including the experiment's preliminary design options and considerations as well as research steps and risks. Furthermore, the proposal includes a four-year plan of work, discusses the facilities and resources of the host group and stresses collaborations with both theorists and experimentalists.
Supervisor: Oosterkamp, T.H.
Faculty: Faculty of Science
Department: Physics (Master)
Specialisation: casimir Pre-PhD
ECTS Credits: 8

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