What connects state-of-the-art medical imaging and the quest to build the ultimate supercomputers? The answer: a quantum property called spin which is possessed by electrons and atomic nuclei.
This exhibit shows the intersection between our everyday
experiences of magnetism and the fascinating 'weirdness' of quantum
mechanics. The scientists behind the exhibit will provide intuitive
explanations of how current technologies work as well insights into
what the future holds for quantum technologies based on spin.
How it works
All electrons, and certain atoms, exhibit a property called spin
which is the origin of magnetism. Spin is used in a host of
important applications today, for example magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) in hospitals.
By placing an object in a large magnetic field, the spins of
certain atomic nuclei (such as hydrogen) can be made to absorb
energy at particular frequencies through the phenomenon of
resonance. Visitors to this exhibit can learn about how it works in
a real MRI scanner.
Individual spins obey the weird and wonderful laws of quantum
mechanics, leading to perplexing phenomena such as superposition
and entanglement. These ideas may ultimately lead to a new wave of
future technologies, such as quantum computers which could
fundamentally outperform today's fastest supercomputers. It's even
possible that nature is already harnessing some of these phenomena,
for example in the method that allows certain migratory birds to
'see' magnetic fields.
iPhone and Android apps
|European Robins have a compass ability that helps
them navigate: scientists believe they have special molecules in
their eyes that may allow them to actually 'see' the effect of
magnetic fields. This app uses the camera feed and a magnetic field
dependent overlay as a compass 'head up display' to simulate the
Play the Bomb Search game, the Quantum Codebreaker Game and the
Save the Qubit game in the Quantum of Spin web
The following videos show members of the exhibit team talking
about what science they first did and why their research is so
exciting, and weird.
This video describes the results of the paper "Entanglement in a
solid state spin ensemble"
Lead image: This image is an artists
impression of entanglement of two spins. Credit: S.