Photonic entanglement during a zero-g flight

Julius Arthur Bittermann1,2, Lukas Bulla1,3, Sebastian Ecker1,3, Sebastian Philipp Neumann1,3, Matthias Fink1,3, Martin Bohmann1,3, Nicolai Friis2,1, Marcus Huber2,1, and Rupert Ursin1,3

1Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information – IQOQI Vienna, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Boltzmanngasse 3, 1090 Vienna, Austria
2Atominstitut, Technische Universität Wien, Stadionallee 2, 1020 Vienna, Austria
3present address: Quantum Technology Laboratories GmbH, Clemens-Holzmeister-Straße 6/6, 1100 Vienna, Austria

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Quantum technologies have matured to the point that we can test fundamental quantum phenomena under extreme conditions. Specifically, entanglement, a cornerstone of modern quantum information theory, can be robustly produced and verified in various adverse environments. We take these tests further and implement a high-quality Bell experiment during a parabolic flight, transitioning from microgravity to hypergravity of 1.8 g while continuously observing Bell violation, with Bell-CHSH parameters between $S=-2.6202$ and $-2.7323$, an average of $\overline{S} = -2.680$, and average standard deviation of $\overline{\Delta S} = 0.014$. This violation is unaffected both by uniform and non-uniform acceleration. This experiment demonstrates the stability of current quantum communication platforms for space-based applications and adds an important reference point for testing the interplay of non-inertial motion and quantum information.

Entanglement is a form of correlation between two quantum systems that is, in a certain sense, stronger, or rather, more versatile than any form of classical correlation and which lies at the heart of modern quantum technologies. Moreover, this quantum feature wreaks havoc with our intuition regarding what is called “local realism”: the notion that measurements of distant objects are independent and can thus be carried out “locally” and that their results have a “reality” independently of the measurement itself. Indeed, experiments in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, recently recognized by the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics, successfully demonstrated that entanglement can lead to the violation of so-called Bell inequalities, which would have to be satisfied if nature could be fully described with a local-realist view.

For a long time, the creation and verification of entanglement was nevertheless considered to be technologically challenging, often relying on fragile and easily disturbed optical setups. At the same time, entanglement has emerged as one of the central ingredients of quantum communication and forms a cornerstone of many nascent quantum technologies. Here, we present an experiment that showcases just how far the technology for entanglement-based quantum technologies has come and how resilient setups can be in the face of adverse conditions: we built and installed a setup for Bell tests into a commercial aircraft and continuously measured strong Bell-inequality violations throughout a sequence of several dozen parabolic flight manoeuvres. We show that even these transitions between different levels of acceleration, ranging from steady flight to strong accelerations nearly twice that of the gravitational pull on the surface of Earth, have no effect on the strength of the entanglement.

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Cited by

[1] Julius Arthur Bittermann, Matthias Fink, Marcus Huber, and Rupert Ursin, "Non-inertial motion dependent entangled Bell-state", arXiv:2401.05186, (2024).

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