# Publications

**Authors: **Esteban Castro-Ruiz, Flaminia Giacomini and Časlav Brukner

**Year:** 2020

In the last few years, there has been increasing interest in quantum processes with indefinite causal order. Process matrices are a convenient framework to study such processes. Ref. [1] defines higher order transformations from process matrices to process matrices and shows that no continuous and reversible transformation can change the causal order of a process matrix. Ref. [2] argues, based on a set of examples, that there are situations where a process can change its causal order over time. Ref. [2] claims that the formalism of higher order transformations is not general enough to capture its examples. Here we show that this claim is incorrect. Moreover, a crucial example of Ref. [2] has already been explicitly considered in Ref. [1] and shown to be compatible with its results.

**Authors: **Lucas F. Streiter, Flaminia Giacomini and Časlav Brukner

**Year:** 2020

A still widely debated question in the field of relativistic quantum information is whether entanglement and the degree of violation of Bell’s inequalities for massive relativistic particles are frame independent or not. At the core of this question is the effect that spin gets entangled with the momentum degree of freedom at relativistic velocities. Here, we show that Bell’s inequalities for a pair of particles can be maximally violated in a special-relativistic regime, even without any post-selection of the momentum of the particles. To this end, we use the methodology of quantum reference frames, which allows us to transform the problem to the rest frame of a particle, whose state can be in a superposition of relativistic momenta from the viewpoint of the laboratory frame. We show that, when the relative motion of two particles is non-collinear, the optimal measurements for violation of Bell’s inequalities in the laboratory frame involve “coherent Wigner rotations”. Moreover, the degree of violation of Bell’s inequalities is independent of the choice of the quantum reference frame. Our results open up the possibility of extending entanglement-based quantum communication protocols to relativistic regimes.

**Authors: **Giulia Rubino, Gonzalo Manzano and Časlav Brukner **Year:** 2020

A priori, there exists no preferential temporal direction as microscopic physical laws are time-symmetric. Still, the second law of thermodynamics allows one to associate the `forward’ temporal direction to a positive entropy variation in a thermodynamic process, and a negative variation with its `time-reversal’ counterpart. This definition of a temporal axis is normally considered to apply in both classical and quantum contexts. Yet, quantum physics admits also superpositions between forward and time-reversal processes, thereby seemingly eluding conventional definitions of time’s arrow. In this work, we demonstrate that a quantum measurement of entropy can distinguish the two temporal directions, effectively projecting such superpositions of thermodynamic processes onto the forward (time-reversal) time-direction when large positive (negative) values are measured. Remarkably, for small values (of the order of plus or minus one), the amplitudes of forward and time-reversal processes can interfere, giving rise to entropy distributions featuring a more or less reversible process than either of the two components individually, or any classical mixture thereof. Finally, we extend these concepts to the case of a thermal machine running in a superposition of the heat engine and the refrigerator mode, illustrating how such interference effects can be employed to reduce undesirable fluctuations.

**Authors: **Časlav Brukner **Year:** 2020

The discussion of the quantum mechanical Wigner’s friend thought experiment has regained intensity. Recent theoretical results and experimental tests restrict the possibility of maintaining an observer-independent notion of measurement outcomes.

**Authors: **Luis C. Barbado, Esteban Castro-Ruiz, Luca Apadula and Časlav Brukner **Year:** 2020

The Unruh effect is the phenomenon that accelerated observers detect particles even when inertial observers experience the vacuum state. In particular, uniformly accelerated observers are predicted to measure thermal radiation that is proportional to the acceleration. Here we consider the Unruh effect for a detector that follows a quantum superposition of different accelerated trajectories in Minkowski spacetime. More precisely, we analyse the excitations of a pointlike multilevel particle detector coupled to a massless real scalar field and moving in the superposition of accelerated trajectories. We find that the state of the detector excitations is, in general, not a mere (convex) mixture of the thermal spectrum characteristics of the Unruh effect for each trajectory with well-defined acceleration separately. Rather, for certain trajectories and excitation levels, and upon the measurement of the trajectory state, the state of the detector excitations features in addition off-diagonal terms. The off-diagonal terms of these “superpositions of thermal states” are related to the distinguishability of the different possible states in which the field is left after its interaction with detector’s internal degrees of the freedom.

**Authors: **Esteban Castro-Ruiz, Flaminia Giacomini, Alessio Belenchia and Časlav Brukner **Year:** 2020

The standard formulation of quantum theory relies on a fixed space-time metric determining the localisation and causal order of events. In general relativity, the metric is influenced by matter, and is expected to become indefinite when matter behaves quantum mechanically. Here, we develop a framework to operationally define events and their localisation with respect to a quantum clock reference frame, also in the presence of gravitating quantum systems. We find that, when clocks interact gravitationally, the time localisability of events becomes relative, depending on the reference frame. This relativity is a signature of an indefinite metric, where events can occur in an indefinite causal order. Even if the metric is indefinite, for any event we can find a reference frame where local quantum operations take their standard unitary dilation form. This form is preserved when changing clock reference frames, yielding physics covariant with respect to quantum reference frame transformations.

**Authors: ** Flaminia Giacomini and Časlav Brukner **Year:** 2021

The Principle of Equivalence, stating that all laws of physics take their special-relativistic form in any local inertial frame, lies at the core of General Relativity. Because of its fundamental status, this principle could be a very powerful guide in formulating physical laws at regimes where both gravitational and quantum effects are relevant. However, its formulation implicitly presupposes that reference frames are abstracted from classical systems (rods and clocks) and that the spacetime background is well defined. It is unclear if it continues to hold when quantum systems, which can be in a quantum relationship with other physical systems, are taken as reference frames, and in a superposition of classical spacetime structures. Here, we tackle both questions by introducing a relational formalism to describe quantum systems in a superposition of curved spacetimes. We build a unitary transformation to the quantum reference frame (QRF) of a quantum system in curved spacetime, and in a superposition thereof. In both cases, a QRF can be found such that the metric looks locally minkowskian. Hence, one cannot distinguish, with a local measurement, if the spacetime is flat or curved, or in a superposition of such spacetimes. This transformation identifies a Quantum Local Inertial Frame. We also find a spacetime path-integral encoding the dynamics of a quantum particle in spacetime and show that the state of a freely falling particle can be expressed as an infinite sum of all possible classical geodesics. We then build the QRF transformation to the Fermi normal coordinates of such freely falling quantum particle and show that the metric is locally minkowskian. These results extend the Principle of Equivalence to QRFs in a superposition of gravitational fields. Verifying this principle may pave a fruitful path to establishing solid conceptual grounds for a future theory of quantum gravity.

**Authors: **Aleksandra Dimić, Marko Milivojević, Dragoljub Gočanin, Natália S. Móller and Časlav Brukner **Year:** 2021

Realization of indefinite causal order (ICO), a theoretical possibility that even causal relations between physical events can be subjected to quantum superposition, apart from its general significance for the fundamental physics research, would also enable quantum information processing that outperforms protocols in which the underlying causal structure is definite. In this paper, we start with a proposition that an observer in a state of quantum superposition of being at two different relative distances from the event horizon of a black hole, effectively resides in ICO space-time generated by the black hole. By invoking the fact that the near-horizon geometry of a Schwarzschild black hole is that of a Rindler space-time, we propose a way to simulate an observer in ICO space-time by a Rindler observer in a state of superposition of having two different proper accelerations. By extension, a pair of Rindler observers with entangled proper accelerations simulates a pair of entangled ICO observers. Moreover, these Rindler-systems might have a plausible experimental realization by means of optomechanical resonators.

**Authors: ** Laura J. Henderson, Alessio Belenchia, Esteban Castro-Ruiz, Costantino Budroni, Magdalena Zych, Časlav Brukner and Robert B. Mann**Year:** 2020

Quantum field theory is completely characterized by the field correlations between spacetime points. In turn, some of these can be accessed by locally coupling to the field simple quantum systems, a.k.a. particle detectors. In this work, we consider what happens when a quantum-controlled superposition of detectors at different space-time points is used to probe the correlations of the field. We show that, due to quantum interference effects, two detectors can gain information on field correlations which would not be otherwise accessible. This has relevant consequences for information theoretic quantities, like entanglement and mutual information harvested from the field. In particular, the quantum control allows for extraction of entanglement in scenarios where this is otherwise provably impossible.

**Authors: **Martin J. Renner and Časlav Brukner **Year:** 2021

Research on indefinite causal structures is a rapidly evolving field that has a potential not only to make a radical revision of the classical understanding of space-time but also to achieve enhanced functionalities of quantum information processing. For example, it is known that indefinite causal structures provide exponential advantage in communication complexity when compared to causal protocols. In quantum computation, such structures can decide whether two unitary gates commute or anticommute with a single call to each gate, which is impossible with conventional (causal) quantum algorithms. A generalization of this effect to n unitary gates, originally introduced in M. Araújo et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 250402 (2014) and often called Fourier promise problem (FPP), can be solved with the quantum-n-switch and a single call to each gate, while the best known causal algorithm so far calls O(n2) gates. In this work, we show that this advantage is smaller than expected. In fact, we present a causal algorithm that solves the only known specific FPP with O(nlog(n)) queries and a causal algorithm that solves every FPP with O(nn−−√) queries. Besides the interest in such algorithms on their own, our results limit the expected advantage of indefinite causal structures for these problems.

**Authors: **Marion Mikusch, Luis C. Barbado and Časlav Brukner **Year:** 2021

In physical experiments, reference frames are standardly modelled through a specific choice of coordinates used to describe the physical systems, but they themselves are not considered as such. However, any reference frame is a physical system that ultimately behaves according to quantum mechanics. We develop a framework for rotational (i.e. spin) quantum reference frames, with respect to which quantum systems with spin degrees of freedom are described. We give an explicit model for such frames as systems composed of three spin coherent states of angular momentum j and introduce the transformations between them by upgrading the Euler angles occurring in classical SO(3) spin transformations to quantum mechanical operators acting on the states of the reference frames. To ensure that an arbitrary rotation can be applied on the spin we take the limit of infinitely large j, in which case the angle operator possesses a continuous spectrum. We prove that rotationally invariant Hamiltonian of the Heisenberg model is invariant under a larger group of quantum reference frame transformations. Finally, the application to physical examples shows that superposition and entanglement of spin states are frame-dependent notions.

**Authors:**Veronika Baumann, Marius Krumm, Philippe Allard Guérin, Časlav Brukner

**Year:**2021 One of the most fundamental open problems in physics is the unification of general relativity and quantum theory to a theory of quantum gravity. An aspect that might become relevant in such a theory is that the dynamical nature of causal structure present in general relativity displays quantum uncertainty. This may lead to a phenomenon known as indefinite or quantum causal structure, as captured by the process matrix framework. Due to the generality of that framework, however, for many process matrices there is no clear physical interpretation. A popular approach towards a quantum theory of gravity is the Page-Wootters formalism, which associates to time a Hilbert space structure similar to spatial position. By explicitly introducing a quantum clock, it allows to describe time-evolution of systems via correlations between this clock and said systems encoded in history states. In this paper we combine the process matrix framework with a generalization of the Page-Wootters formalism in which one considers several observers, each with their own discrete quantum clock. We describe how to extract process matrices from scenarios involving such observers with quantum clocks, and analyze their properties. The description via a history state with multiple clocks imposes constraints on the physical implementation of process matrices and on the perspectives of the observers as described via causal reference frames. While it allows for describing scenarios where different definite causal orders are coherently controlled, we explain why certain non-causal processes might not be implementable within this setting.

**Authors:**Flaminia Giacomini, Časlav Brukner

**Year:**2021 We challenge the view that there is a basic conflict between the fundamental principles of Quantum Theory and General Relativity, and in particular the fact that a superposition of massive bodies would lead to a violation of the Equivalence Principle. It has been argued that this violation implies that such a superposition must inevitably spontaneously collapse (like in the Diósi-Penrose model). We identify the origin of such an assertion in the impossibility of finding a local, classical reference frame in which Einstein’s Equivalence Principle would hold. In contrast, we argue that the formulation of the Equivalence Principle can be generalised so that it holds for reference frames that are associated to quantum systems in a superposition of spacetimes. The core of this new formulation is the introduction of a quantum diffeomorphism to such Quantum Reference Frames (QRFs). This procedure reconciles the principle of linear superposition in Quantum Theory with the principle of general covariance and the Equivalence Principle of General Relativity. Hence, it is not necessary to invoke a gravity-induced spontaneous state reduction when a massive body is prepared in a spatial superposition.

**Authors: **Veronika Baumann, Flavio Del Santo, Alexander R. H. Smith, Flaminia Giacomini, Esteban Castro-Ruiz, Caslav Brukner

**Year:** 2021

The quantum measurement problem can be regarded as the tension between the two alternative dynamics prescribed by quantum mechanics: the unitary evolution of the wave function and the state-update rule (or “collapse”) at the instant a measurement takes place. The notorious Wigner’s friend gedankenexperiment constitutes the paradoxical scenario in which different observers (one of whom is observed by the other) describe one and the same interaction differently, one –the Friend– via state-update and the other –Wigner– unitarily. This can lead to Wigner and his friend assigning different probabilities to the outcome of the same subsequent measurement. In this paper, we apply the Page-Wootters mechanism (PWM) as a timeless description of Wigner’s friend-like scenarios. We show that the standard rules to assign two-time conditional probabilities within the PWM need to be modified to deal with the Wigner’s friend gedankenexperiment. We identify three main definitions of such modified rules to assign two-time conditional probabilities, all of which reduce to standard quantum theory for non-Wigner’s friend scenarios. However, when applied to the Wigner’s friend setup each rule assigns different conditional probabilities, potentially resolving the probability-assignment paradox in a different manner. Moreover, one rule imposes strict limits on when a joint probability distribution for the measurement outcomes of Wigner and his Friend is well-defined, which single out those cases where Wigner’s measurement does not disturb the Friend’s memory and such a probability has an operational meaning in terms of collectible statistics. Interestingly, the same limits guarantee that said measurement outcomes fulfill the consistency condition of the consistent histories framework.

**Authors:**Martin J. Renner, Časlav Brukner

**Year:**2021 In an ordinary quantum algorithm the gates are applied in a fixed order on the systems. The introduction of indefinite causal structures allows to relax this constraint and control the order of the gates with an additional quantum state. It is known that this quantum-controlled ordering of gates can reduce the query complexity in deciding a property of black-box unitaries with respect to the best algorithm in which the gates are applied in a fixed order. However, all tasks explicitly found so far require unitaries that either act on unbounded dimensional quantum systems in the asymptotic limit (the limiting case of a large number of black-box gates) or act on qubits, but then involve only a few unitaries. Here we introduce tasks (1) for which there is a provable computational advantage of a quantum-controlled ordering of gates in the asymptotic case and (2) that require only qubit gates and are therefore suitable to demonstrate this advantage experimentally. We study their solutions with the quantum-n-switch and within the quantum circuit model and find that while the n-switch requires to call each gate only once, a causal algorithm has to call at least 2n−1 gates. Furthermore, the best known solution with a fixed gate ordering calls O(nlog2(n)) gates.

**Authors:**Veronika Baumann, Flavio Del Santo, Alexander R. H. Smith, Flaminia Giacomini, Esteban Castro-Ruiz, Caslav Brukner

**Year:**2021 The quantum measurement problem can be regarded as the tension between the two alternative dynamics prescribed by quantum mechanics: the unitary evolution of the wave function and the state-update rule (or “collapse”) at the instant a measurement takes place. The notorious Wigner’s friend gedankenexperiment constitutes the paradoxical scenario in which different observers (one of whom is observed by the other) describe one and the same interaction differently, one –the Friend– via state-update and the other –Wigner– unitarily. This can lead to Wigner and his friend assigning different probabilities to the outcome of the same subsequent measurement. In this paper, we apply the Page-Wootters mechanism (PWM) as a timeless description of Wigner’s friend-like scenarios. We show that the standard rules to assign two-time conditional probabilities within the PWM need to be modified to deal with the Wigner’s friend gedankenexperiment. We identify three main definitions of such modified rules to assign two-time conditional probabilities, all of which reduce to standard quantum theory for non-Wigner’s friend scenarios. However, when applied to the Wigner’s friend setup each rule assigns different conditional probabilities, potentially resolving the probability-assignment paradox in a different manner. Moreover, one rule imposes strict limits on when a joint probability distribution for the measurement outcomes of Wigner and his Friend is well-defined, which single out those cases where Wigner’s measurement does not disturb the Friend’s memory and such a probability has an operational meaning in terms of collectible statistics. Interestingly, the same limits guarantee that said measurement outcomes fulfill the consistency condition of the consistent histories framework.

**Authors:**Gregg Jaeger, David Simon, Alexander V. Sergienko, Daniel Greenberger, Anton Zeilinger

**Year:**2021 Quantum Arrangements: This book presents a collection of novel contributions and reviews by renowned researchers in the foundations of quantum physics, quantum optics, and neutron physics. It is published in honor of Michael Horne, whose exceptionally clear and groundbreaking work in the foundations of quantum mechanics and interferometry, both of photons and of neutrons, has provided penetrating insight into the implications of modern physics for our understanding of the physical world. He is perhaps best known for the Clauser-Horne-Shimony-Holt (CHSH) inequality. This collection includes an oral history of Michael Horne’s contributions to the foundations of physics and his connections to other eminent figures in the history of the subject, among them Clifford Shull and Abner Shimony.

**Published in**

*Foundations of Physics*❱**Authors:**Kai Wang, Daniel R. Terno, Caslav Brukner, Shining Zhu, Xiao-Song Ma

**Year:**2021 Wave-particle duality and entanglement are two fundamental characteristics of quantum mechanics. All previous works on experimental investigations in wave{particle properties of single photons (or single particles in general) show that a well-defined interferometer setting determines a well-defined property of single photons. Here we take a conceptual step forward and control the wave-particle property of single photons with quantum entanglement. By doing so, we experimentally test the complementarity principle in a scenario, in which the setting of the interferometer is not defined at any instance of the experiment, not even in principle. To achieve this goal, we send the photon of interest (S) into a quantum Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI), in which the output beam splitter of the MZI is controlled by the quantum state of the second photon (C), who is entangled with a third photon (A). Therefore, the individual quantum state of photon C is undefined, which implements the undefined settings of the MZI for photon S. This is realized by using three cascaded phase-stable interferometers for three photons. There is typically no well-defined setting of the MZI, and thus the very formulation of the wave-particle properties becomes internally inconsistent.

**Authors:**Anne-Catherine de la Hamette, Viktoria Kabel, Esteban Castro-Ruiz, Časlav Brukner

**Year:**2021 The current theories of quantum physics and general relativity on their own do not allow us to study situations in which the gravitational source is quantum. Here, we propose a strategy to determine the dynamics of objects in the presence of mass configurations in superposition, and hence an indefinite spacetime metric, using quantum reference frame (QRF) transformations. Specifically, we show that, as long as the mass configurations in the different branches are related via relative-distance-preserving transformations, one can use an extension of the current framework of QRFs to change to a frame in which the mass configuration becomes definite. Assuming covariance of dynamical laws under quantum coordinate transformations, this allows to use known physics to determine the dynamics. We apply this procedure to find the motion of a probe particle and the behavior of clocks near the mass configuration, and thus find the time dilation caused by a gravitating object in superposition.

**Authors:**Časlav Brukner

**Year:**2021 The relational approach to quantum states asserts that the physical description of quantum systems is always relative to something or someone. In relational quantum mechanics (RQM) it is relative to other quantum systems, in the (neo-)Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory to measurement contexts, and in QBism to the beliefs of the agents. In contrast to the other two interpretations, in RQM any interaction between two quantum systems counts as a “measurement”, and the terms “observer” and “observed system” apply to arbitrary systems. We show, in the form of a no-go theorem, that in RQM the physical description of a system relative to an observer cannot represent knowledge about the observer in the conventional sense of this term. The problem lies in the ambiguity in the choice of the basis with respect to which the relative states are to be defined in RQM. In interpretations of quantum theory where observations play a fundamental role, the problem does not arise because the experimental context defines a preferred basis.

**Authors:**Giulia Rubino, Lee A. Rozema, Francesco Massa, Mateus Araújo, Magdalena Zych, Časlav Brukner, and Philip Walther

**Year:**2022 The study of causal relations has recently been applied to the quantum realm, leading to the discovery that not all physical processes have a definite causal structure. While indefinite causal processes have previously been experimentally shown, these proofs relied on the quantum description of the experiments. Yet, the same experimental data could also be compatible with definite causal structures within different descriptions. Here, we present the first demonstration of indefinite temporal order outside of quantum formalism. We show that our experimental outcomes are incompatible with a class of generalised probabilistic theories satisfying the assumptions of locality and definite temporal order. To this end, we derive physical constraints (in the form of a Bell-like inequality) on experimental outcomes within such a class of theories. We then experimentally invalidate these theories by violating the inequality using entangled temporal order. This provides experimental evidence that there exist correlations in nature which are incompatible with the assumptions of locality and definite temporal order.

**Published in**

*Quantum 6, 621 (2022)*❱ **Authors: ** Giulia Rubino, Gonzalo Manzano, Lee A. Rozema, Philip Walther, Juan M. R. Parrondo, and Časlav Brukner

**Year:** 2022

The study of thermodynamic fluctuations allows one to relate the free energy difference between two equilibrium states with the work done on a system through processes far from equilibrium. This finding plays a crucial role in the quantum regime, where the definition of work becomes nontrivial. Based on these relations, here we develop a simple interferometric method allowing a direct estimation of the work distribution and the average dissipative work during a driven thermodynamic process by superposing the forward and time-reversal evolutions of the process. We show that our scheme provides useful upper bounds on the average dissipative work even without full control over the thermodynamic process, and we propose methodological variations depending on the possible experimental limitations encountered. Finally, we exemplify its applicability by an experimental proposal for implementing our method on a quantum photonics system, on which the thermodynamic process is performed through polarization rotations induced by liquid crystals acting in a discrete temporal regime.

**Authors: ** Martin J. Renner and Časlav Brukner

**Year:** 2022

In an ordinary quantum algorithm the gates are applied in a fixed order on the systems. The introduction of indefinite causal structures allows us to relax this constraint and control the order of the gates with an additional quantum state. It is known that this quantum-controlled ordering of gates can reduce the query complexity in deciding a property of black-box unitaries with respect to the best algorithm in which the gates are applied in a fixed order. However, all tasks explicitly found so far require unitaries that either act on unbounded dimensional quantum systems in the asymptotic limit (the limiting case of a large number of black-box gates) or act on qubits, but then involve only a few unitaries. Here we introduce tasks (i) for which there is a provable computational advantage of a quantum-controlled ordering of gates in the asymptotic case and (ii) that require only qubit gates and are therefore suitable to demonstrate this advantage experimentally. We study their solutions with the quantum n -switch and within the quantum circuit model and find that while the n -switch requires to call each gate only once, a causal algorithm has to call at least 2 n − 1 gates. Furthermore, the best known solution with a fixed gate ordering calls O [ n log 2 ( n ) ] gates.

**Published in**

*PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS*❱