16 March 2010 Toward Superposition States of Viruses

Optical trapping of viruses is an essential tool in the scheme

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute and ICFO propose
an experiment to observe quantum behaviour in
living organisms.
The New Journal of Physics published on March 11th. the article \"Toward quantum superposition of living organisms\", authored by Dr. Oriol Romero-Isart and Prof. Ignacio Cirac, from the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, (Germany); and Dr. Mathieu Juan and ICREA Prof. Romain Quidant from ICFO. The article proposes an experiment to observe quantum behaviour at the nanoscale, where superposition states of objects containing billions of atoms -a description fitting living organisms such as viruses- would be created and observable.

Light plays a fundamental role in the proposed protocol. The figure illustrates optical trapping of these dielectric nano-objects. By levitating these objects with light and placing them inside an optical cavity, they are detached from other mechanical systems and therefore very well isolated from the environment. These conditions allow performing quantum optics experiments on nanospheres containing billions of atoms, very much in the style of usual experiments with single atoms or ions.

The authors want to emphasize that this experimental setup - apart from providing new technology for the fields of quantum information and computation, as well as for constructing ultra-sensitive detectors - can be applied to address fundamental questions, such as whether quantum mechanics is valid at these much larger scales.

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