Researchers plan to use quantum computers in search for dark matter
It's a cosmic riddle: How can galaxies remain together when all the matter we observe isn't enough to keep them intact? Scientists believe an invisible force must beat play, something so mysterious they named it "dark matter" because of its lack of visibility.
This mysterious presence accounts for nearly three times more than what we can observe – a startling 27% of all existence! The mysterious dark matter is a profound mystery to scientists, its existence making up nearly one-third of the universe's energy and mass yet remaining elusive due to its ability to avoid detection. Dark matter particles move relatively slowly, which explains why it has been mostly concealed from view until now.
Scientists all over the world are still trying to learn more about this unknown matter that is keeping galaxies together. Recently, Aaron Chou, a senior scientist at Fermilab, found something that enabled the detection of dark matter using quantum science.
He worked on detecting dark matter with the help of quantum computers. He invented a way that involves using qubits, the main component of quantum computing systems, to discover single photons in the strong magnetic field presence.
How the quantum computer performs perfect calculations to help in detecting dark matter
Instead of being stuck choosing between a 1 or 0 like in classical computing, qubits in quantum computers have the ability to exist as both, at once, through something called superposition. This remarkable feature gives Aaron Chaou an incredible advantage!
Chou's insight was that the extreme sensitivity of qubits could be used to detect dark matter. A key element of his research is the idea that dark matter detectors must be protected in a similar way as quantum computers, using shielding, cold temperatures, and other forms of protection from outside interference. This would allow them to operate at the same quantum levels and be sensitive enough to detect elusive particles.
A device sensitive to photons
Chou and his team use superconducting qubits to measure the photons produced when dark matter particles roam a strong magnetic field. The qubits are enclosed in aluminum photon cavities, which act as a shield from outside disturbances. This allows scientists to detect disturbances from photons and infer that it is likely due to dark matter passing through the shielding layers. By studying these disturbances and the associated photons, scientists can gain insight into the nature of dark matter. This research could potentially lead to a better understanding of the galaxy and its many mysteries.
Until now, Chou has established a way of how this technique works and how this device is sensitive to photons. The device enables heightened sensitivity to dark matter signals as it is featured with ultra-low noise levels.
Now, Chou and his team plan to conduct a detection of dark matter with quantum computers experiment and continue his work to improve the device features.
Combining aspects of both physics and quantum science
Chou is now using sapphire cavities in his experiments that take him closer to his goal. This invention involves both the aspects of physics and quantum science.
The research team is currently modifying the photon cavity to turn it into a radio receiver capable of sensing different wavelengths of dark matter. This can be done by changing the size of the box since the frequencies and wavelengths that can exist in a box are determined by its overall size.
The synthetic sapphire cavity is made using a process called molecular beam epitaxy, which involves growing the material layer by layer with high precision. The researchers were able to keep the electromagnetic properties of the cavity while also being able to withstand higher magnetic fields compared to traditional aluminum cavities.
The researchers believe this new material could revolutionize the study of dark matter particles, leading to a better understanding of the universe.
It's not as simple as a photon "traveling into the past". Instead, it involves a single light particle evolving in "a superposition of time evolutions."