A team of physicists have put forward an ambitious new plan to put the principle of quantum superposition, where an object can exist in two places at once, to work on a subject that has not been attempted before: they plan on doing this with a living microorganism.
Researchers have been steadily increasing the scale of the subject that they subject to a state of quantum superposition, where the particles affected are in more than one place at the same time, starting with smaller elementary particles such as photons, up through recent experiments where macroscopic, inanimate objects have been subjected to this state.
But what about living organisms?
Quantum physicists at Purdue University in Indiana and Tsinghua University in Beijing have proposed putting a common microorganism, such as a single bacterium, into a state of quantum superposition. While this would not be true teleportation of the creature, as that would involve it ceasing to exist at it’s point of origin, and continuing to exist at it’s destination, this would constitute an incredible step towards the goal of true quantum teleportation.
“Although it has attracted enormous interest, no quantum superposition state of an organism has been realized. So we propose a straightforward approach to put a microbe into a superposition of two spatial states, that is, the microbe will be at two different positions at the same time,” explains Tongcang Li of Purdue University.
Dr. Li proposes to utilize an apparatus that employs an oscillating aluminum membrane that holds a state of superposition, that was developed at the University of Colorado two years ago. They plan to place their Schrödinger’s Microbe on the membrane to induce it into it’s own state of superposition. Dr. Li hopes that the experiment could be constructed and running in the next three years.
“It is cool to put an organism in two different locations at the same time,” adds Dr. Li. “In many fairy tales, a fairy could be at two different locations or change locations instantly. This will be similar to that. Although it will be a microbe instead of a fairy.”