Proving Spooky Physics Exists with the Help of a Cryostation

Posted 2 November, 2015

At Montana Instruments, we are beyond humbled to be part of one of the most significant recent discoveries in the world of quantum physics. Our closed-cycle optical cryostat, the Cryostation, played a role in the first loophole-free Bell test, helping physicists at the Delft University of Technology prove one of the strangest phenomenon in physics, something that perplexed even Einstein himself. Learn more here.

Delft Bell Test

Researchers Bas Hensen (left) and Dr. Ronald Hanson (right) at location A of the loophole-free Bell experiment, with the Montana Instruments Cryostation on the far right. Photo: Frank Auperle/Delft University of Technology

Physicists at the Delft University of Technology just made a major breakthrough in the realm of quantum mechanics, conducting an experiment to validate the much debated theory of entanglement, or the idea that actions performed on one particle instantaneously influence the behavior of another, even at opposite ends of the universe. Even Einstein struggled to accept the phenomenon, because without a physically understood explanation, the anticipated effects were too “spooky” to comprehend. Instead, Einstein reasoned a set of hidden variables must be at play to explain how subatomic particles could appear to communicate instantaneously across space-time.

In 1964, physicist John Bell devised a test to prove Einstein’s hidden variables could not exist. For years, experiments to support Bell’s work struggled to overcome two different loopholes in the theorem which rendered the test invalid. Delft’s most recent experiment was able to eliminate both of these loopholes, essentially attributing the resulting entangled effects to the “spooky actions” of quantum mechanics.

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The Montana Instruments Cryostation provides an environment at 4 degrees Kelvin where the diamond crystal motion is slowed enough so the nitrogen-vacancy centers which trap the electrons can be studied.

This video provides a straightforward explanation for the conundrum, demonstrating how the Delft team ran the convincing experiment and why it has been such a challenging endeavor.

The TU Diamond Lab in Quantum Transport website contains links to relevant news articles, images, and videos on the discovery.

Our Spotlight on Researchers article "Loophole-Free Violation of Bell's Inequality Using Entangled Electron Spins" summarizes the experimental method and results.

The original scientific article (DOI: 10.1038/Nature.15759) was published in “Nature” on October 21, 2015.

This work should not be considered an endorsement of any product.