Sunday, July 11, 2010
Quantum non-demolition measurement allows physicists to count photons without destroying them: "In their experiments, the physicists wanted to find out how many photons were in a microwave cavity. To do this without disturbing the system, they coupled a superconducting qubit to a cavity. This cavity stored the photons long enough for them to be measured - or “interrogated” - by using a set of controlled-NOT (CNOT) operations to encode information about the cavity state onto the qubit state. Then the qubit and storage cavity were decoupled, and the qubit state was read out. Because the qubit state now depends on the number of photons in the cavity, measuring the qubit reveals the number of photons."