Science: To catch and reverse a quantum jump mid-flight

To catch and reverse a quantum jump mid-flight

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Experimentally, quantum jumps were first observed in an atomic ion driven by a weak deterministic force while under strong continuous energy measurement2,3,4. The times at which the discontinuous jump transitions occur are reputed to be fundamentally unpredictable. Despite the non-deterministic character of quantum physics, is it possible to know if a quantum jump is about to occur? Here we answer this question affirmatively

The experimental results demonstrate that the evolution of each completed jump is continuous, coherent and deterministic. We exploit these features, using real-time monitoring and feedback, to catch and reverse quantum jumps mid-flight—thus deterministically preventing their completion. Our findings, which agree with theoretical predictions essentially without adjustable parameters, support the modern quantum trajectory theory5,6,7,8,9 and should provide new ground for the exploration of real-time intervention techniques in the control of quantum systems, such as the early detection of error syndromes in quantum error correction.

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