U.S. Dept of Energy Breakthrough Detecting Dark Matter With Quantum Computers
Dark matter accounts for approximately 27 percent of the energy and matter budget of the universe. However, scientists don’t know much about it. They know it’s cold, which means that the particles that comprise dark matter are extremely slow to move. Additionally, it’s difficult discern dark matter because it is not interconnected.
T is a light. However, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) have found a method to use quantum computers in order to search for dark matter.
Aaron Chou, a senior scientist at Fermilab working on the detection of dark matter with quantum science. In DOE’s Office of High Energy Physics QuantISED program, he’s come up with a method of using qubits, which are the primary element in quantum computers to identify single photons generated by dark matter under the influence of a magnetic field that is strong.
Quantum computers can detect dark matter?
A traditional computer process information by using binary bits, which are which are either 1 or 1 or. The particular pattern of zeros and ones can allow computers to carry out certain tasks and functions. Quantum computing qubits, however, exist at the digits 1 and zero at the same time until they are read due because of a quantum mechanical feature called superposition. This makes quantum computers able to execute complex calculations, which conventional computers would require a significant amount of time.
“Qubits operate by manipulating single excitations of information, like for instance, single photons” explained Chou. “So that if you’re working with tiny bits of energy, such as single excitations, you’re much more susceptible to disturbances from the outside.”
For qubits to function at these high levels of quantum, qubits have to be kept in controlled and secure environments that guard them from interference from outside and ensure they are maintained at low temperatures. Any slight disturbance could disrupt a program within the quantum computer. Due to their high sensitiveness, Chou realized quantum computers could allow us to identify dark matter.
How quantum computers can detect dark matter?
A traditional computer process information by using binary bits, which are which are either 1 or zero. The precise pattern of zeros and ones allows computers to carry out specific functions and tasks. Quantum computing qubits, however, exist at the 0 and 1 positions at the same time until they are recognized, thanks the quantum mechanical phenomenon called superposition. This makes quantum computers able to execute complex calculations, which conventional computers would require a significant amount of time to finish.
“Qubits function by manipulating just single excitations in information, for instance, single photons” Chou said. Chou. “So that if you’re working with tiny pieces of energy that are single excitations, you’re much more vulnerable to disturbances from the outside.”
Where mistakes are welcome
If dark matter particles cross the magnetic field in a powerful way and produce photons, they can create photons which Chou as well as his group are able to detect using superconducting qubits within the aluminum cavities for photons. Because the qubits are protected from any other outside disturbances, if scientists find an anomaly in a photon, they can conclude that it’s caused by dark matter escaping through the shielding layers.
“These anomalies are characterized by errors in which there was no information loaded into your computer however, somehow information appeared as zeroes which transform into ones due to particles flying around this device” the researcher said.
Researchers are also working on developing cavities made of various materials. The conventional aluminum photon cavities are no longer superconducting in the existence that magnetic fields are that is required to produce photons from the dark matter particles.
“These cavities can’t be used in large magnet fields” the scientist said. “High magnetic fields damage the superconductivity. So we’ve designed an entirely new cavity that is made from synthesized sapphire.”
Making this new, adjustable sapphire cavities will bring the team towards running dark matter tests that integrate elements from both physics and quantum science.