Chinese researchers used a quantum processor to simulate black hole-like conditions

They created a quantum system with properties analogous to black holes.
Ameya Paleja
Stock image of a quantum computer
Stock image of a quantum computer

Bartlomiej Wroblewski/iStock 

A collaborative effort from research teams across multiple organizations in China was successful in using quantum computing technology to test Hawking Radiation, the theory proposed by renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, the South China Morning Post reported.

Quantum computing is a complex field that involves using mathematics, computer science, and physics to solve complex problems. Interesting Engineering recently reported how a quantum computer recently beat a conventional supercomputer at complex math.

Unlike conventional computers that use bits to process their calculations, quantum computers use quantum bits, commonly referred to as qubits, for processing information. Since a qubit can exist in more than the dual state of 0 and 1 available to conventional bits, it is capable of performing an exponentially higher number of calculations, something that researchers are looking to exploit and succeed in.

What is Hawking Radiation?

What we know about the realm of physics so far is that the gravity of a black hole is so strong that nothing, not even light, escapes from it. When a particle crosses the event horizon of a black hole, it can't escape it.

However, according to renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, at a quantum level, a particle inside a black hole can gradually escape. Proposed in 1974, this theory states that a black hole leaks energy in the form of waves or particles from just outside the event horizon. This is referred to as Hawking radiation and causes a black hole to lose all energy and eventually evaporate.

Over the years, researchers have tried multiple approaches to test this theory. Using media like shall water waves, optical metamaterials, light as well as Bose-Einstein condensates, a state where matter and its constituent particles are at their lowest energy levels.

With advances in quantum computing research, scientists across organizations in China got together to test Hawking's predictions at a quantum level.

Chinese researchers used a quantum processor to simulate black hole-like conditions
Artist's representation of a black hole in space

Creating a black hole at quantum levels

The team comprising researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tianjin University, and the Beijing Academy of Quantum Information Sciences, developed a supercomputer consisting of a chain of 10 qubits. The interacting couplings were controlled by nine tunable couplers.

The team was also aided by researchers from the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research in Japan and provided a path for simulating the quantum effects of black holes using superconducting chips.

The experiments showed a certain possibility of a quasiparticle radiating through an event horizon, proving Hawking's theory true. The team also confirmed that simulated hawking radiation was verified by measuring all the qubits outside the horizon.

“Our results would stimulate more interest to explore the related features of black holes using the programmable superconducting processor with tunable couplers,” the team wrote in their research published in Nature Communication earlier this month.

Quantum computing is progressing at a rapid rate, with researchers in China even claiming that their quantum computer is 180 million times faster than the supercomputers in the US today.

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