# Adding or subtracting single quanta of sound

January 25, 2021Researchers perform experiments that can add or subtract a single quantum of sound--with surprising results when applied to noisy sound fields.

Quantum mechanics tells us that physical objects can have both wave and particle properties. For instance, a single particle--or quantum--of light is known as a photon, and, in a similar fashion, a single quantum of sound is known as a phonon, which can be thought of as the smallest unit of sound energy.

A team of researchers spanning Imperial College London, University of Oxford, the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Bath, and the Australian National University have performed an experiment that can add or subtract a single phonon to a high-frequency sound field using interactions with laser light.

The team's findings aid the development of future quantum technologies, such as hardware components in a future 'quantum internet', and help pave the way for tests of quantum mechanics on a more macroscopic scale. The details of their research are published today in the prestigious journal

*Physical Review Letters.*

To add or subtract a single quantum of sound, the team experimentally implement a technique proposed in 2013 that exploits correlations between photons and phonons created inside a resonator. More specifically, laser light is injected into a crystalline microresonator that supports both the light and the high-frequency sound waves.

The two types of waves then couple to one another via an electromagnetic interaction that creates light at a new frequency. Then, to subtract a single phonon, the team detect a single photon that has been up-shifted in frequency. "Detecting a single photon gives us an event-ready signal that we have subtracted a single phonon," says lead author of the project Georg Enzian.

When the experiment is performed at a finite temperature, the sound field has random fluctuations from thermal noise. Thus, at any one time, the exact number of sound quanta present is unknown but on average there will be n phonons initially.

What happens now when you add or subtract a single phonon? At first thought, you may expect this would simply change the average to n + 1 or n - 1, respectively, however the actual outcome defies this intuition. Indeed, quite counterintuitively, when you subtract a single phonon, the average number of phonons actually goes up to 2n.

This surprising result where the mean number of quanta doubles has been observed for all-optical photon-subtraction experiments and is observed for the first time outside of optics here. "One way to think of the experiment is to imagine a claw machine that you often see in video arcades, except that you can't see how many toys there are inside the machine. Before you agree to play, you've been told that on average there are n toys inside but the exact number changes randomly each time you play. Then, immediately after a successful grab with the claw, the average number of toys actually goes up to 2n," describes Michael Vanner, Principal Investigator of the Quantum Measurement Lab at Imperial College London.

It's important to note that this result certainly does not violate energy conservation and comes about due to the statistics of thermal phonons.

The team's results, combined with their recent experiment that reported strong coupling between light and sound in a microresonator, open a new path for quantum science and technology with sound waves.

-end-

Imperial College London

## Related Quantum Articles from Brightsurf:

Theoreticians show which quantum systems are suitable for quantum simulations

A joint research group led by Prof. Jens Eisert of Freie Universität Berlin and Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has shown a way to simulate the quantum physical properties of complex solid state systems.

Quantum shake

There they were, in all their weird quantum glory: ultracold lithium atoms in the optical trap operated by UC Santa Barbara undergraduate student Alec Cao and his colleagues in David Weld's atomic physics group.

New evidence for quantum fluctuations near a quantum critical point in a superconductor

A study has found evidence for quantum fluctuations near a quantum critical point in a superconductor.

Quantum simulation of quantum crystals

International research team describes the new possibilities offered by the use of ultracold dipolar atoms

Quantum machines learn "quantum data"

Skoltech scientists have shown that quantum-enhanced machine learning can be used on quantum (as opposed to classical) data, overcoming a significant slowdown common to these applications and opening a ''fertile ground to develop computational insights into quantum systems''.

Simulating quantum 'time travel' disproves butterfly effect in quantum realm

Using a quantum computer to simulate time travel, researchers have demonstrated that, in the quantum realm, there is no 'butterfly effect.' In the research, information--qubits, or quantum bits--'time travel' into the simulated past.

Orbital engineering of quantum confinement in high-Al-content AlGaN quantum well

Recently, professor Kang's group focus on the limitation of quantum confine band offset model, the hole states delocalization in high-Al-content AlGaN quantum well are understood in terms of orbital intercoupling.

Quantum classifiers with tailored quantum kernel?

Quantum information scientists have introduced a new method for machine learning classifications in quantum computing.

A Metal-like Quantum Gas: A pathbreaking platform for quantum simulation

Coherent and ultrafast laser excitation creates an exotic matter phase with spatially overlapping electronic wave-functions under nanometric control in an artificial micro-crystal of ultracold atoms.

Quantum leap: Photon discovery is a major step toward at-scale quantum technologies

A team of physicists at the University of Bristol has developed the first integrated photon source with the potential to deliver large-scale quantum photonics.

Read More: Quantum News and Quantum Current Events

A joint research group led by Prof. Jens Eisert of Freie Universität Berlin and Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has shown a way to simulate the quantum physical properties of complex solid state systems.

Quantum shake

There they were, in all their weird quantum glory: ultracold lithium atoms in the optical trap operated by UC Santa Barbara undergraduate student Alec Cao and his colleagues in David Weld's atomic physics group.

New evidence for quantum fluctuations near a quantum critical point in a superconductor

A study has found evidence for quantum fluctuations near a quantum critical point in a superconductor.

Quantum simulation of quantum crystals

International research team describes the new possibilities offered by the use of ultracold dipolar atoms

Quantum machines learn "quantum data"

Skoltech scientists have shown that quantum-enhanced machine learning can be used on quantum (as opposed to classical) data, overcoming a significant slowdown common to these applications and opening a ''fertile ground to develop computational insights into quantum systems''.

Simulating quantum 'time travel' disproves butterfly effect in quantum realm

Using a quantum computer to simulate time travel, researchers have demonstrated that, in the quantum realm, there is no 'butterfly effect.' In the research, information--qubits, or quantum bits--'time travel' into the simulated past.

Orbital engineering of quantum confinement in high-Al-content AlGaN quantum well

Recently, professor Kang's group focus on the limitation of quantum confine band offset model, the hole states delocalization in high-Al-content AlGaN quantum well are understood in terms of orbital intercoupling.

Quantum classifiers with tailored quantum kernel?

Quantum information scientists have introduced a new method for machine learning classifications in quantum computing.

A Metal-like Quantum Gas: A pathbreaking platform for quantum simulation

Coherent and ultrafast laser excitation creates an exotic matter phase with spatially overlapping electronic wave-functions under nanometric control in an artificial micro-crystal of ultracold atoms.

Quantum leap: Photon discovery is a major step toward at-scale quantum technologies

A team of physicists at the University of Bristol has developed the first integrated photon source with the potential to deliver large-scale quantum photonics.

Read More: Quantum News and Quantum Current Events

Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.