Available student project - Fundamental tests of quantum mechanics with matter waves

Research fields

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics
  • Quantum Science and Applications
Waves, particles and speckle image for light (l) and matter (r)

Project details

In 1935, Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen described a thought experiment - the EPR paradox. According to Einstein, the solution to the paradox was that quantum mechanics offers an incomplete picture of our world, and there exists a set of properties which are hidden from our view. In 1964, John Bell proposed a method - the Bell theorem - that would test for the existence of "hidden variables".

Here at the ANU we are in the process of experimentally testing these fundamental tenets of quantum mechanics with matter waves for the first time. We use an excited state of helium (in a metastable excited state - He*) cooled into a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) as our matter wave source to generate entangled matter wave pairs. Single-atom-detection of the atom pairs allows us to formulate Bell inequalities - allowing us to test non-local realism with macroscopic matter waves.

The main outcome of the project will be a new fundamental knowledge of large-scale EPR-entanglement and quantum nonlocality with massive particles. First laboratory demonstrations of EPR-entangled photon states that violated the classical bounds demanded by a Bell inequality have been heralded as among the most important experiments of 20th century quantum physics. Such demonstrations, however, have been so far realised only for massless photons and pairs of massive particles, but never for large ensembles of massive particles. Generation of large-scale entanglement is important for understanding how quantum mechanics works on mesoscopic and macroscopic scales, and to determine the ultimate size of future quantum devices.

Required background

An interest in quantum mechanics, optics, atomic physics

Project suitability

This research project can be tailored to suit students of the following type(s)
  • 3rd year special project
  • PhB (2nd or 3rd year)
  • Honours project
  • Phd or Masters
  • Vacation scholar

Contact supervisor

Truscott, Andrew profile
Senior Fellow

Other supervisor(s)

Baldwin, Kenneth profile
Deputy Director (Research)

Updated:  17 August 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPE/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster