A Quantum Bit Speeds Up The Search For Dark Matter

Researchers at the Fermilab high-energy physics laboratory in the United States have built a quantum bit that will speed up the search for dark matter 1,000 times.

Dark matter, which represents 85% of all matter in the universe, has intrigued scientists since 1933, when an invisible mass was detected that affects the movements of stars and galaxies.

However, it has not yet been directly detected, although numerous observations made in recent decades have confirmed the presence of this invisible mass in various parts of the universe.

Although its existence is considered more than proven, the search for dark matter has intensified because its experimental confirmation could be the key to a new understanding of physics and our place in the universe.

Quantum bits The Fermilab team at the University of Chicago has taken a significant step in this search: they have successfully used quantum bits, better known as qubits, to detect photons generated when dark matter particles affect an electromagnetic field and become photons.

As the researchers explain in a statement , there are two types of subatomic particles in which dark matter could appear.

One would be the axion (the existence of which has not yet been proven) and another the dark photon (a hypothetical boson located beyond the Standard Model). The qubits developed by this equipment can detect the weak signals emitted by both particles.

If they really exist, these particles possibly interact with the light particles (photons) of the visible universe and it would be time to detect them directly: the qubit is able to store the photon resulting from the interaction and to discover if it really comes from axions or photons dark.

Sensitivity This technique will advance the search for dark matter like never before, since it will detect any invisible particles that turn into light (photons).

The researchers explain that the key to the sensitivity of the technique is its ability to eliminate false positive readings, since conventional dark matter search techniques destroy the photons they measure.

The new technique, however, due to its quantum nature, can probe the photon without destroying it: carrying out up to 50 repeated measurements of the same photon, over the course of its 500 microsecond lifespan, provides insurance against erroneous readings, they say. researchers.

Another advantage of the new technique is that it also reduces the noise that makes it difficult to read the signal: it suppresses practically all static noise (that generated by the environment) and allows a clear observation of the stored photon.

More possibilities The difference with the traditional method is that, while it generates a photon of noise in each measurement, quantum technology obtains one photon of noise every thousand measurements.

The technique is 36 times more sensitive to particles than the quantum limit, a benchmark for conventional quantum measurements, the Fermilab scientists say.

That means that if axions exist, the current experiment offers a one in 10,000 chance that it will detect a photon produced by an interaction with dark matter.

The researchers conclude: “While there is still a long way to go, there is reason to be optimistic” because this technology promises to lift the veil that prevents direct observation of dark matter.

Quantum physics, once again, transcends hitherto insurmountable limits and opens new horizons to the discovery of enigmatic dark matter.

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