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Russian and German scientists create ‘world’s first’ quantum metamaterials

A TEAM OF Russian and German scientists have joined forces to create what they are calling “the world’s first quantum metamaterials”, which can be used as a control element in superconducting electrical circuits.

The breakthrough arrives in the form of “the creation of seemingly impossible materials” called ‘metamaterials’, which are apparently substances whose properties are determined not by the atoms they consist of, but by the atoms’ structural arrangement. 

“Each structure is hundreds of nanometers, and has its own set of properties that disappear when scientists try to separate the material into its components,” the research paper explains.

“That is why such a structure is called a meta-atom (not to be confused with the common atoms of Mendeleev’s Periodic Table) and any substance consisting of meta-atoms is called a meta-material.”

Led by Professor Alexey Ustinov, head of the National University of Science and Technology’s MISIS Laboratory of Superconducting Metamaterials, the study saw the creation came from what they call twin “qubits”, that is, metamaterials consisting of meta-atoms whose state could be described quantum-mechanically.

For example, a conventional qubit consists of a scheme that includes three Josephson junctions, that is, a thin layer of a non-superconducting material between two layers of superconducting material. The twin qubit, however, is composed of five junctions that are symmetric to the central axis.

What this means is that the system can be used as a quantum simulator, for example, a device that can predict or simulate properties of a certain real process or material.

Kirill Shulga, the first author of the project, explained: “The logic here is quite simple: a more complex system, with a large number of degrees of freedom, has a higher number of factors that can influence its properties,” he said.

“When changing some external properties of the environment where our metamaterial is located, we can turn these properties on and off by turning the twin qubit from one state with certain properties to another with other properties.” 

This became apparent during the experiment, as the whole metamaterial consisting of twin qubits switched over between two different modes. As the researchers note, they had to sort out lots of theories to correctly describe the processes that occurs in quantum meta-materials. µ

Further reading

Source : Inquirer

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