March 2020

Giving Operational Meaning to the Superposition of Causal Orders

In this work, we give rigorous operational meaning to superposition of causal orders. This fits within a recent effort to understand how the standard operational perspective on quantum theory could be extended to include indefinite causality. The mainstream view, that of “process matrices”, takes a top-down approach to the problem, considering all causal correlations that are compatible with local quantum experiments. Conversely, we pursue a bottom-up approach, investigating how the concept of indefiniteness emerges from specific characteristics of generic operational theories. Specifically, we pin down the operational phenomenology of the notion of non-classical (e.g. “coherent”) control, which we then use to formalise a theory-independent notion of control (e.g. “superposition”) of causal orders. To validate our framework, we show how salient examples from the literature can be captured in our framework.

Functorial evolution of quantum fields

We present a compositional algebraic framework to describe the evolution of quantum fields in discretised spacetimes. We show how familiar notions from Relativity and quantum causality can be recovered in a purely order-theoretic way from the causal order of events in spacetime, with no direct mention of analysis or topology. We formulate theory-independent notions of fields over causal orders in a compositional, functorial way. We draw a strong connection to Algebraic Quantum Field Theory (AQFT), using a sheaf-theoretical approach in our definition of spaces of states over regions of spacetime. We introduce notions of symmetry and cellular automata, which we show to subsume existing definitions of Quantum Cellular Automata (QCA) from previous literature. Given the extreme flexibility of our constructions, we propose that our framework be used as the starting point for new developments in AQFT, QCA and more generally Quantum Field Theory.

Quantum simulations of a qubit of space

In loop quantum gravity approach to Planck scale physics, quantum geometry is represented by superposition of the so-called spin network states. In the recent literature, a class of spin networks promising from the perspective of quantum simulations of quantum gravitational systems has been studied. In this case, the spin network states are represented by graphs with four-valent nodes, and two dimensional intertwiner Hilbert spaces (qubits of space) attached to them. In this article, construction of quantum circuits for a general intertwiner qubit is presented. The obtained circuits are simulated on 5-qubit (Yorktown) and 15-qubit (Melbourne) IBM superconducting quantum computers, giving satisfactory fidelities. The circuits provide building blocks for quantum simulations of complespin networks in the future. Furthermore, a class of maximally entangled states of spin networks is introduced. As an example of application, attempts to determine transition amplitudes for a monopole and a dipole spin networks with the use of superconducting quantum processor are made.

Unruh effect for detectors in superposition of accelerations

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.

Area-Law Study of Quantum Spin System on Hyperbolic Lattice Geometries

Magnetic properties of the transverse-field Ising model on curved (hyperbolic) lattices are studied by a tensor product variational formulation that we have generalized for this purpose. First, we identify the quantum phase transition for each hyperbolic lattice by calculating the magnetization. We study the entanglement entropy at the phase transition in order to analyze the correlations of various subsystems located at the center with the rest of the lattice. We confirm that the entanglement entropy satisfies the area law at the phase transition for fixed coordination number, i.e., it scales linearly with the increasing size of the subsystems. On the other hand, the entanglement entropy decreases as power-law with respect to the increasing coordination number.

A Diagrammatic Approach to Information Transmission in Generalised Switches

The quantum switch is a higher-order operation that takes as an input two quantum processes and combines them in a coherent superposition of two alternative orders. Here we provide an approach to the quantum switch based on the methods of categorical quantum mechanics. Specifically, we represent the quantum switch as a sum of diagrams in the category of finite dimensional Hilbert spaces, or, equivalently, as a sum of diagrams built from Selinger’s CPM construction. The sum-of-diagrams picture provides intuition for the activation of classical capacity of completely depolarising channels (CDPCs) and allows for generalisation to N-channel switches. We demonstrate the use of these partially diagrammatic methods by deriving a permutation condition for computing the output of any N-channel switch of CDPCs, we then use that condition to prove that amongst all possible terms, the interference terms associated to cyclic permutations of the N channels are the information-transmitting terms with maximum normalisation

Witnessing non-classicality beyond quantum theory

We propose a general argument to show that if a physical system can mediate locally the generation of entanglement between two quantum systems, then it itself must be non-classical. Remarkably, we do not assume any classical or quantum formalism to describe the mediating physical system: our result follows from general information-theoretic principles, drawn from the recently proposed constructor theory of information. This argument provides the indispensable theoretical basis for recently proposed tests of non-classicality in gravity, based on witnessing gravitationally-induced entanglement in quantum probes.

Memory and entropy

I study the physical nature of traces (or memories). Surprisingly, (i) systems separation with (ii) temperature differences and (iii) long thermalization times, are sufficient conditions to produce macroscopic traces. Traces of the past are ubiquitous because these conditions are largely satisfied in our universe. I quantify these thermodynamical conditions for memory and derive an expression for the maximum amount of information stored in such memories, as a function of the relevant thermodynamical parameters. This mechanism transforms low entropy into available information.

Photonic Quantum Metrology

Quantum Metrology is one of the most promising application of quantum technologies. The aim of this research field is the estimation of unknown parameters exploiting quantum resources, whose application can lead to enhanced performances with respect to classical strategies. Several physical quantum systems can be employed to develop quantum sensors, and photonic systems represent ideal probes for a large number of metrological tasks. Here we review the basic concepts behind quantum metrology and then focus on the application of photonic technology for this task, with particular attention to phase estimation. We describe the current state of the art in the field in terms of platforms and quantum resources. Furthermore, we present the research area of multiparameter quantum metrology, where multiple parameters have to be estimated at the same time. We conclude by discussing the current experimental and theoretical challenges, and the open questions towards implementation of photonic quantum sensors with quantum-enhanced performances in the presence of noise.