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Category Archives: Quantum Physics

Berkeley Lab Intern Finds Her Way in Particle Physics | Berkeley Lab – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Posted: June 28, 2017 at 6:50 am

Intern Katherine Dunne with mentor Maurice Garcia-Sciveres. (Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)

As a high school student in Birmingham, Alabama, Berkeley Lab Undergraduate Research (BLUR) intern Katie Dunne first dreamed of becoming a physicist after reading Albert Einsteins biography, but didnt know anyone who worked in science. I felt like the people who were good at math and science werent my friends, she said. So when it came time for college, she majored in English, and quickly grew dissatisfied because it wasnt challenging enough. Eventually, she got to know a few engineers, but none of them were women, she recalled.

She still kept physics in the back of her mind until she read an article about The First Lady of Physics, Chien-Shiung Wu, an experimental physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project, and later designed the Wu experiment, which proved that the conservation of parity is violated by weak interactions. Two male theorists who proposed parity violation won the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics, and Wu did not, Dunne said. When I read about her, I decided that thats what I want to do design experiments.

Katie Dunne, left, and mentor Maurice Garcia-Sciveres. (Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)

So she put physics front and center, and about four years ago, transferred as a physics major to the City College of San Francisco. With Silicon Valley nearby, there are many opportunities here to get work experience in instrumentation and electrical engineering, Dunne said. In the summers of 2014 and 2015, she landed internships in the Human Factors division at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, where she streamlined the development of a printed circuit board for active infrared illumination.

But it wasnt until she took a class in modern physics when she discovered her true passion particle physics. When we got to quantum physics, it was great. Working on the problems of quantum physics is exciting, she said. Its so elegant and dovetails with math. Its the ultimate mystery because we cant observe quantum behavior.

When it came time to apply for her next summer internship in 2016, instead of reapplying for a position at NASA, she googled ATLAS, the name of a 7,000-ton detector for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Her search drummed up an article about Beate Heinemann, who, at the time, was a researcher with dual appointments at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab and was deputy spokesperson of the ATLAS collaboration. (Heinemann is also one of the 20percent of female physicists working on the ATLAS experiment.)

When Dunne contacted Heinemann to ask if she would consider her for an internship, she suggested that she contact Maurice Garcia-Sciveres, a physicist at Berkeley Lab whose research specializes in pixel detectors for ATLAS, and who has mentored many students interested in instrumentation.

Garcia-Sciveres invited Dunne to a meeting so she could see the kind of work that they do. I could tell I would get a lot of hands-on experience, she said. So she applied for her first internship with Garcia-Sciveres through the Community College Internship (CCI) program which, like the BLUR internship program, is managed by Workforce Development & Education at Berkeley Lab and started to work with his team on building prototype integrated circuit (IC) test systems for ATLAS as part of the High Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC) Project, an international collaboration headed by CERN to increase the LHCs luminosity (rate of collisions) by a factor of 10 by 2020.

A quad module with a printed circuit board (PCB) for power and data interface to four FE-I4B chips. Dunne designed the PCB. (Credit: Katie Dunne/Berkeley Lab)

For the ATLAS experiment, we work with the Engineering Division to build custom electronics and integrated circuits for silicon detectors. Our work is focused on improving the operation, testing, and debugging of these ICs, said Garcia-Sciveres.

During Dunnes first internship, she analyzed threshold scans for an IC readout chip, and tested their radiation hardness or threshold for tolerating increasing radiation doses at the Labs 88-Inch Cyclotron and at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Berkeley Lab is a unique environment for interns. They throw you in, and you learn on the job. The Lab gives students opportunities to make a difference in the field theyre working in, she said.For the ATLAS experiment, we work with the Engineering Division to build custom electronics and integrated circuits for silicon detectors. Our work is focused on improving the operation, testing, and debugging of these ICs, said Garcia-Sciveres.

For Garcia-Sciveres, it didnt take long for Dunne to prove she could make a difference for his team. Just after her first internship at Berkeley Lab, the results from her threshold analysis made their debut as data supporting his presentation at the 38th International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP) in August 2016. The results were from her measurements, he said. This is grad student-level work shes been doing. Shes really good.

Katie Dunne delivers a poster presentation in spring 2017. (Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)

After the conference, Garcia-Sciveres asked Dunne to write the now published proceedings (he and the other authors provided her with comments and suggested wording). And this past January, Dunne presented Results of FE65-P2 Stability Tests for the High Luminosity LHC Upgrade during the HL-LHC, BELLE2, Future Colliders session of the American Physical Society (APS) Meeting in Washington, D.C.

This summer, for her third and final internship at the Lab, Dunne is working on designing circuit boards needed for the ATLAS experiment, and assembling and testing prototype multi-chip modules to evaluate system performance. She hopes to continue working on ATLAS when she transfers to UC Santa Cruz as a physics major in the fall, and would like to get a Ph.D. in physics one day. I love knowing that the work I do matters. My internships and work experience as a research assistant at Berkeley Lab have made me more confident in the work Im doing, and more passionate about getting things done and sharing my results, she said.

Goherefor more information about internships hosted by Workforce Development & Education at Berkeley Lab, or contact them ateducation@lbl.gov.

This work was supported in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) under the Community College Internship (CCI) program.

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How quantum trickery can scramble cause and effect – Nature.com

Posted: at 6:50 am

Albert Einstein is heading out for his daily stroll and has to pass through two doorways. First he walks through the green door, and then through the red one. Or wait did he go through the red first and then the green? It must have been one or the other. The events had have to happened in a sequence, right?

Not if Einstein were riding on one of the photons ricocheting through Philip Walther's lab at the University of Vienna. Walther's group has shown that it is impossible to say in which order these photons pass through a pair of gates as they zip around the lab. It's not that this information gets lost or jumbled it simply doesn't exist. In Walther's experiments, there is no well-defined order of events.

This finding1 in 2015 made the quantum world seem even stranger than scientists had thought. Walther's experiments mash up causality: the idea that one thing leads to another. It is as if the physicists have scrambled the concept of time itself, so that it seems to run in two directions at once.

In everyday language, that sounds nonsensical. But within the mathematical formalism of quantum theory, ambiguity about causation emerges in a perfectly logical and consistent way. And by creating systems that lack a clear flow of cause and effect2, researchers now think they can tap into a rich realm of possibilities. Some suggest that they could boost the already phenomenal potential of quantum computing. A quantum computer free from the constraints of a predefined causal structure might solve some problems faster than conventional quantum computers, says quantum theorist Giulio Chiribella of the University of Hong Kong.

What's more, thinking about the 'causal structure' of quantum mechanics which events precede or succeed others might prove to be more productive, and ultimately more intuitive, than couching it in the typical mind-bending language that describes photons as being both waves and particles, or events as blurred by a haze of uncertainty.

And because causation is really about how objects influence one another across time and space, this new approach could provide the first steps towards uniting the two cornerstone theories of physics and resolving one of the most profound scientific challenges today. Causality lies at the interface between quantum mechanics and general relativity, says Walther's collaborator aslav Brukner, a theorist at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Vienna, and so it could help us to think about how one could merge the two conceptually.

Causation has been a key issue in quantum mechanics since the mid-1930s, when Einstein challenged the apparent randomness that Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg had installed at the heart of the theory. Bohr and Heisenberg's Copenhagen interpretation insisted that the outcome of a quantum measurement such as checking the orientation of a photon's plane of polarization is determined at random, and only in the instant that the measurement is made. No reason can be adduced to explain that particular outcome. But in 1935, Einstein and his young colleagues Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen (now collectively denoted EPR) described a thought experiment that pushed Bohr's interpretation to a seemingly impossible conclusion.

The EPR experiment involves two particles, A and B, that have been prepared with interdependent, or 'entangled', properties. For example, if A has an upward-pointing 'spin' (crudely, a quantum property that can be pictured a little bit like the orientation of a bar magnet), then B must be down, and vice versa.

Both pairs of orientations are possible. But researchers can discover the actual orientation only when they make a measurement on one of the particles. According to the Copenhagen interpretation, that measurement doesn't just reveal the particle's state; it actually fixes it in that instant. That means it also instantly fixes the state of the particle's entangled partner however far away that partner is. But Einstein considered this apparent instant action at a distance impossible, because it would require faster-than-light interaction across space, which is forbidden by his special theory of relativity. Einstein was convinced that this invalidated the Copenhagen interpretation, and that particles A and B must already have well-defined spins before anybody looks at them.

Measurements of entangled particles show, however, that the observed correlation between the spins can't be explained on the basis of pre-existing properties. But these correlations don't actually violate relativity because they can't be used to communicate faster than light. Quite how the relationship arises is hard to explain in any intuitive cause-and-effect way.

But what the Copenhagen interpretation does at least seem to retain is a time-ordering logic: a measurement can't induce an effect until after it has been made. For event A to have any effect on event B, A has to happen first. The trouble is that this logic has unravelled over the past decade, as researchers have realized that it is possible to imagine quantum scenarios in which one simply can't say which of two related events happens first.

Classically, this situation sounds impossible. True, we might not actually know whether A or B happened first but one of them surely did. Quantum indeterminacy, however, isn't a lack of knowledge; it's a fundamental prohibition on pronouncing on any 'true state of affairs' before a measurement is made.

Brukner's group in Vienna, Chiribella's team and others have been pioneering efforts to explore this ambiguous causality in quantum mechanics3, 4. They have devised ways to create related events A and B such that no one can say whether A preceded and led to (in a sense 'caused') B, or vice versa. This arrangement enables information to be shared between A and B in ways that are ruled out if there is a definite causal order. In other words, an indeterminate causal order lets researchers do things with quantum systems that are otherwise impossible.

The trick they use involves creating a special type of quantum 'superposition'. Superpositions of quantum states are well known: a spin, for example, can be placed in a superposition of up and down states. And the two spins in the EPR experiment are in a superposition in that case involving two particles. It's often said that a quantum object in a superposition exists in two states at once, but more properly it simply cannot be said in advance what the outcome of a measurement would be. The two observable states can be used as the binary states (1 and 0) of quantum bits, or qubits, which are the basic elements of quantum computers.

The researchers extend this concept by creating a causal superposition. In this case, the two states represent sequences of events: a particle goes first through gate A and then through gate B (so that A's output state determines B's input), or vice versa.

In 2009, Chiribella and his co-workers came up with a theoretical way to do an experiment like this using a single qubit as a switch that controls the causal order of events experienced by a particle that acts as second qubit3. When the control-switch qubit is in state 0, the particle goes through gate A first, and then through gate B. When the control qubit is in state 1, the order of the second qubit is BA. But if that qubit is in a superposition of 0 and 1, the second qubit experiences a causal superposition of both sequences meaning there is no defined order to the particle's traversal of the gates (see 'Trippy journeys').

Nik Spencer/Nature

Three years later, Chiribella proposed an explicit experimental procedure for enacting this idea5; Walther, Brukner and their colleagues subsequently worked out how to implement it in the lab1. The Vienna team uses a series of 'waveplates' (crystals that change a photon's polarization) and partial mirrors that reflect light and also let some pass through. These devices act as the logic gates A and B to manipulate the polarization of a test photon. A control qubit determines whether the photon experiences AB or BA or a causal superposition of both. But any attempt to find out whether the photon goes through gate A or gate B first will destroy the superposition of gate ordering.

Having demonstrated causal indeterminacy experimentally, the Vienna team wanted to go further. It's one thing to create a quantum superposition of causal states, in which it is simply not determined what caused what (that is, whether the gate order is AB or BA). But the researchers wondered whether it is possible to preserve causal ambiguity even if they spy on the photon as it travels through various gates.

At face value, this would seem to violate the idea that sustaining a superposition depends on not trying to measure it. But researchers are now realizing that in quantum mechanics, it's not exactly what you do that matters, but what you know.

Last year, Walther and his colleagues devised a way to measure the photon as it passes through the two gates without immediately changing what they know about it6. They encode the result of the measurement in the photon itself, but do not read it out at the time. Because the photon goes through the whole circuit before it is detected and the measurement is revealed, that information can't be used to reconstruct the gate order. It's as if you asked someone to keep a record of how they feel during a trip and then relay the information to you later so that you can't deduce exactly when and where they were when they wrote it down.

As the Vienna researchers showed, this ignorance preserves the causal superposition. We don't extract any information about the measurement result until the very end of the entire process, when the final readout takes place, says Walther. So the outcome of the measurement process, and the time when it was made, are hidden but still affect the final result.

Other teams have also been creating experimental cases of causal ambiguity by using quantum optics. For example, a group at the University of Waterloo in Canada and the nearby Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics has created quantum circuits that manipulate photon states to produce a different causal mash-up. In effect, a photon passes through gates A and B in that order, but its state is determined by a mixture of two causal procedures: either the effect of B is determined by the effect of A, or the effects of A and B are individually determined by some other event acting on them both, in much the same way that a hot day can increase sunburn cases and ice-cream sales without the two phenomena being directly causally related. As with the Vienna experiments, the Waterloo group found that it's not possible to assign a single causal 'story' to the state the photons acquire7.

Some of these experiments are opening up new opportunities for transmitting information. A causal superposition in the order of signals travelling through two gates means that each can be considered to send information to the other simultaneously. Crudely speaking, you get two operations for the price of one, says Walther. This offers a potentially powerful shortcut for information processing.

An indeterminate causal order lets researchers do things with quantum systems that are otherwise impossible.

Although it has long been known that using quantum superposition and entanglement could exponentially increase the speed of computation, such tricks have previously been played only with classical causal structures. But the simultaneous nature of pathways in a quantum-causal superposition offers a further boost in speed. That potential was apparent when such superpositions were first proposed: quantum theorist Lucien Hardy at the Perimeter Institute8 and Chiribella and his co-workers3 independently suggested that quantum computers operating with an indefinite causal structure might be more powerful than ones in which causality is fixed.

Last year, Brukner and his co-workers showed9 that building such a shortcut into an information-processing protocol with many gates should give an exponential increase in the efficiency of communication between gates, which could be beneficial for computation. We haven't reached the end yet of the possible speed-ups, says Brukner. Quantum mechanics allows way more.

It's not terribly complicated to build the necessary quantum-circuit architectures, either you just need quantum switches similar to those Walther has used. I think this could find applications soon, Brukner says.

The bigger goal, however, is theoretical. Quantum causality might supply a point of entry to some of the hardest questions in physics such as where quantum mechanics comes from.

Quantum theory has always looked a little ad hoc. The Schrdinger equation works marvellously to predict the outcomes of quantum experiments, but researchers are still arguing about what it means, because it's not clear what the physics behind it is. Over the past two decades, some physicists and mathematicians, including Hardy10 and Brukner11, have sought to clarify things by building 'quantum reconstructions': attempts to derive at least some characteristic properties of quantum-mechanical systems such as entanglement and superpositions from simple axioms about, say, what can and can't be done with the information encoded in the states (see Nature 501, 154156; 2013).

The framework of causal models provides a new perspective on these questions, says Katja Ried, a physicist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria who previously worked with the University of Waterloo team on developing systems with causal ambiguity. If quantum theory is a theory about how nature processes and distributes information, then asking in which ways events can influence each other may reveal the rules of this processing.

And quantum causality might go even further by showing how one can start to fit quantum theory into the framework of general relativity, which accounts for gravitation. The fact that causal structure plays such a central role in general relativity motivates us to investigate in which ways it can 'behave quantumly', says Ried.

Most of the attempts to understand quantum mechanics involve trying to save some aspects of the old classical picture, such as particle trajectories, says Brukner. But history shows us that what is generally needed in such cases is something more, he says something that goes beyond the old ideas, such as a new way of thinking about causality itself. When you have a radical theory, to understand it you usually need something even more radical.

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Physicists make quantum leap in understanding life’s nanoscale machinery – Phys.Org

Posted: June 27, 2017 at 7:47 am

June 27, 2017 UQ's Mr Nicolas Mauranyapin, Professsor Warwick Bowen and Dr Lars Madsen. Credit: University of Queensland

A diagnostic technique that can detect tiny molecules signalling the presence of cancer could be on the horizon.

The possibility of an entirely new capability for detecting cancer at its earliest stages arises from University of Queensland physicists applying quantum physics to single molecule sensing for the first time.

Australian Research Council Future Fellow Professor Warwick Bowen said the research reported in Nature Photonics this week demonstrated how quantum technologies could revolutionise the study of life's "nanoscale machinery, or biological motor molecules".

"Motor molecules encode our genetic material, create the energy our cells use to function, and distribute nutrients at a sub-cellular level," Professor Bowen said.

"Unlike methods currently available, the technique helps us observe the behaviour of single biomolecules without large-label particles or damaging light intensities."

PhD student Nicolas Mauranyapin said motor molecules drove all of life's primary functions, but scientists did not yet completely understand their workings.

"Our research opens a new door to study motor molecules in their native state, at the nanoscale," Mr Mauranyapin said.

Project researcher Dr Lars Madsen said the project applied techniques used to detect gravitational waves from black holes in outer space to the nanoscale super small world of molecular biology.

"The techniques required to detect extremely faint signals produced by distant black holes were developed over decades," Dr Madsen said.

"Our research translates this technological development over to the biosciences and offers the possibility of a new biomedical diagnostics technique capable of detecting the presence of even a single cancer marker molecule."

Researchers from five countries - Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, France and Pakistan were involved in the project.

It is funded by the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research, which aims to use the technique to help understand stress on pilot behaviour at the sub-cellular level.

The project is part of the University of Queensland Precision Sensing Initiative, a joint initiative of the schools of Mathematics and Physics and of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

It was supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, which aims to develop next-generation quantum technologies for future Australian industries.

Explore further: UQ, partners taking computing out of this world

More information: N. P. Mauranyapin et al. Evanescent single-molecule biosensing with quantum-limited precision, Nature Photonics (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2017.99

University of Queensland researchers have partnered with global technology leader Lockheed Martin to develop next generation computers for aerospace applications.

A new nanoscale sensor has been developed that can help detect cytokinesmolecules that play a critical role in cellular response to infection, inflammation, trauma and disease.

(Phys.org)A team of Australian scientists has developed a powerful microscope using the laws of quantum mechanics to probe the inner workings of living cells.

Next-generation sensors to be used in fields as diverse as mineral exploration and climate change will be turbo boosted thanks to University of Queensland and University of Sussex research.

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Physicists make quantum leap in understanding life's nanoscale machinery - Phys.Org

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Physicists settle debate over how exotic quantum particles form – Phys.Org

Posted: at 7:47 am

June 23, 2017 by Carla Reiter Here 3 symbolizes an Efimov molecule comprised of three atoms. While all 3s look about the same, research from the Chin group observed a tiny 3 that is clearly different. Credit: Cheng Chin

New research by physicists at the University of Chicago settles a longstanding disagreement over the formation of exotic quantum particles known as Efimov molecules.

The findings, published last month in Nature Physics, address differences between how theorists say Efimov molecules should form and the way researchers say they did form in experiments. The study found that the simple picture scientists formulated based on almost 10 years of experimentation had it wronga result that has implications for understanding how the first complex molecules formed in the early universe and how complex materials came into being.

Efimov molecules are quantum objects formed by three particles that bind together when two particles are unable to do so. The same three particles can make molecules in an infinite range of sizes, depending on the strength of the interactions between them.

Experiments had shown the size of an Efimov molecule was roughly proportional to the size of the atoms that comprise ita property physicists call universality.

"This hypothesis has been checked and rechecked multiple times in the past 10 years, and almost all the experiments suggested that this is indeed the case," said Cheng Chin, a professor of physics at UChicago, who leads the lab where the new findings were made. "But some theorists say the real world is more complicated than this simple formula. There should be some other factors that will break this universality."

The new findings come down somewhere between the previous experimental findings and predictions of theorists. They contradict both and do away with the idea of universality.

"I have to say that I am surprised," Chin said. "This was an experiment where I did not anticipate the result before we got the data."

The data came from extremely sensitive experiments done with cesium and lithium atoms using techniques devised by Jacob Johansen, previously a graduate student in Chin's lab who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University. Krutik Patel, a graduate student at UChicago, and Brian DeSalvo, a postdoctoral researcher at UChicago, also contributed to the work.

"We wanted to be able to say once and for all that if we didn't see any dependence on these other properties, then there's really something seriously wrong with the theory," Johansen said. "If we did see dependence, then we're seeing the breakdown of this universality. It always feels good, as a scientist, to resolve these sorts of questions."

Developing new techniques

Efimov molecules are held together by quantum forces rather than by the chemical bonds that bind together familiar molecules such as H2O. The atoms are so weakly connected that the molecules can't exist under normal conditions. Heat in a room providing enough energy to shatter their bonds.

The Efimov molecule experiments were done at extremely low temperatures50 billionths of a degree above absolute zeroand under the influence of a strong magnetic field, which is used to control the interaction of the atoms. When the field strength is in a particular, narrow range, the interaction between atoms intensifies and molecules form. By analyzing the precise conditions in which formation occurs, scientists can infer the size of the molecules.

But controlling the magnetic field precisely enough to make the measurements Johansen sought is extremely difficult. Even heat generated by the electric current used to create the field was enough to change that field, making it hard to reproduce in experiments. The field could fluctuate at a level of only one part in a milliona thousand times weaker than the Earth's magnetic fieldand Johansen had to stabilize it and monitor how it changed over time.

The key was a technique he developed to probe the field using microwave electronics and the atoms themselves.

"I consider what Jacob did a tour de force," Chin said. "He can control the field with such high accuracy and perform very precise measurements on the size of these Efimov molecules and for the first time the data really confirm that there is a significant deviation of the universality."

The new findings have important implications for understanding the development of complexity in materials. Normal materials have diverse properties, which could not have arisen if their behavior at the quantum level was identical. The three-body Efimov system puts scientists right at the point at which universal behavior disappears.

"Any quantum system made with three or more particles is a very, very difficult problem," Chin said. "Only recently do we really have the capability to test the theory and understand the nature of such molecules. We are making progress toward understanding these small quantum clusters. This will be a building block for understanding more complex material."

Explore further: Exotic, gigantic molecules fit inside each other like Russian nesting dolls

More information: Jacob Johansen et al. Testing universality of Efimov physics across broad and narrow Feshbach resonances, Nature Physics (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nphys4130

University of Chicago scientists have experimentally observed for the first time a phenomenon in ultracold, three-atom molecules predicted by Russian theoretical physicist Vitaly Efimov in 1970.

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An international team of physicists has converted three normal atoms into a special new state of matter whose existence was proposed by Russian scientist Vitaly Efimov in 1970.

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Google to Achieve "Supremacy" in Quantum Computing by the End of 2017 – Big Think

Posted: June 26, 2017 at 5:53 pm

In theory, quantum computers could be vastly superior to regular or classical computers in performing certain kinds of tasks, but its been hard to build one. Already a leader in this field, Google is now testing its most powerful quantum chip yet,a 20-qubit processor,which the company looks to more than double in power to 49 qubits by the end of 2017.

Google's qubit devices are built on integrated circuits and can perform calculations using the physics of quantum mechanics.Qubits(or quantum bits) are units of quantum information that can be a mix of 0 and 1at the same time,making them better suited than classical bits for encoding large amounts of data.

Last year, Google actually released a plan on how it will achieve what it called quantum supremacy - getting quantum computers to do something the classical computers cannot, like factoring very large numbers. The paper says that if the processors manage to get to 50 qubits, quantum supremacy would be possible.

One big issue for Google to resolve - figuring out how to simulate what randomly arranged quantum circuits would do. Even a small difference in input into such a system would produce extremely different outputs, requiring a great amount of computing power that doesnt currently exist.

Theyre doing a quantum version of chaos, is how Simon Devitt from the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science in Japan described Googles challenge. The output is essentially random, so you have to compute everything.

Computational difficulties aside, Google and other companies like IBM are moving along quicker than expected in their development. While they figured out the science necessary to create the qubits, the next challenges lie in scaling down their systems and reducing error rates.

The engineer Alan Ho from Googles quantum AI lab revealed that his teams current 20-qubit system has the error measure also known as two-qubit fidelity of 99.5%. The goal for the 49-qubit system would be to reach 99.7% fidelity.

It might take until 2027 until we get error-free quantum computers, according to Ho, meaning that usable devices are still some time away.

For more on how quantum computing works, check out this video:

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Google to Achieve "Supremacy" in Quantum Computing by the End of 2017 - Big Think

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DoE Launches Chicago Quantum Exchange – HPCwire (blog)

Posted: at 5:53 pm

While many of us were preoccupied with ISC 2017 last week, the launch of the Chicago Quantum Exchange went largely unnoticed. So what is such a thing? It is a Department of Energy sponsored collaboration between the University of Chicago, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory to facilitate the exploration of quantum information and the development of new applications with the potential to dramatically improve technology for communication, computing and sensing.

The new hub will be within within the Institute for Molecular Engineering (IME) at UChicago. Quantum mechanics, of course, governs the behavior of matter at the atomic and subatomic levels in exotic and unfamiliar ways compared to the classical physics used to understand the movements of everyday objects. The engineering of quantum phenomena could lead to new classes of devices and computing capabilities, permitting novel approaches to solving problems that cannot be addressed using existing technology.

Lately, it seems work on quantum computing has ratcheted up considerably with IBM, Google, D-Wave, and Microsoft leading the charge. The Chicago Quantum Exchange seems to be a more holistic endeavor to advance the entire quantum research ecosystem and industry.

The combination of the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, working together as the Chicago Quantum Exchange, is unique in the domain of quantum information science, said Matthew Tirrell, dean and Founding Pritzker Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering and Argonnes deputy laboratory director for science. The CQEs capabilities will span the range of quantum information, from basic solid state experimental and theoretical physics, to device design and fabrication, to algorithm and software development. CQE aims to integrate and exploit these capabilities to create a quantum information technology ecosystem.

According to the official announcement, the CQE collaboration will benefit from UChicagosPolsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which supports the creation of innovative businesses connected to UChicago and Chicagos South Side. The CQE will have a strong connection with a major Hyde Park innovation project that wasannounced recentlyas the second phase of the Harper Court development on the north side of 53rd Street, and will include an expansion of Polsky Center activities. This project will enable the transition from laboratory discoveries to societal applications through industrial collaborations and startup initiatives.

Companies large and small are positioning themselves to make a far-reaching impact with this new quantum technology. Alumni of IMEs quantum engineering PhD program have been recruited to work for many of these companies. The creation of CQE will allow for new linkages and collaborations with industry, governmental agencies and other academic institutions, as well as support from the Polsky Center for new startup ventures.

IMEs quantum engineering program is already training a new workforce of quantum engineers to meet the need of industry, government laboratories, and universities. The program now consists of eight faculty members and more than 100 postdoctoral scientists and doctoral students. Approximately 20 faculty members from UChicagos Physical Sciences Division also pursue quantum research.

Source: University of Chicago

Link to full article: https://news.uchicago.edu/article/2017/06/20/chicago-quantum-exchange-create-technologically-transformative-ecosystem

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DoE Launches Chicago Quantum Exchange - HPCwire (blog)

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Atomic imperfections move quantum communication network closer … – Phys.Org

Posted: June 24, 2017 at 2:59 pm

June 23, 2017 Single spins in silicon carbide absorb and emit single photons based on the state of their spin. Credit: Prof. David Awschalom

An international team led by the University of Chicago's Institute for Molecular Engineering has discovered how to manipulate a weird quantum interface between light and matter in silicon carbide along wavelengths used in telecommunications.

The work advances the possibility of applying quantum mechanical principles to existing optical fiber networks for secure communications and geographically distributed quantum computation. Prof. David Awschalom and his 13 co-authors announced their discovery in the June 23 issue of Physical Review X.

"Silicon carbide is currently used to build a wide variety of classical electronic devices today," said Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at UChicago and a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory. "All of the processing protocols are in place to fabricate small quantum devices out of this material. These results offer a pathway for bringing quantum physics into the technological world."

The findings are partly based on theoretical models of the materials performed by Awschalom's co-authors at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. Another research group in Sweden's Linkping University grew much of the silicon carbide material that Awschalom's team tested in experiments at UChicago. And another team at the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology in Japan helped the UChicago researchers make quantum defects in the materials by irradiating them with electron beams.

Quantum mechanics govern the behavior of matter at the atomic and subatomic levels in exotic and counterintuitive ways as compared to the everyday world of classical physics. The new discovery hinges on a quantum interface within atomic-scale defects in silicon carbide that generates the fragile property of entanglement, one of the strangest phenomena predicted by quantum mechanics.

Entanglement means that two particles can be so inextricably connected that the state of one particle can instantly influence the state of the other, no matter how far apart they are.

"This non-intuitive nature of quantum mechanics might be exploited to ensure that communications between two parties are not intercepted or altered," Awschalom said.

Exploiting quantum mechanics

The findings enhance the once-unexpected opportunity to create and control quantum states in materials that already have technological applications, Awschalom noted. Pursuing the scientific and technological potential of such advances will become the focus of the newly announced Chicago Quantum Exchange, which Awschalom will direct.

An especially intriguing aspect of the new paper was that silicon carbide semiconductor defects have a natural affinity for moving information between light and spin (a magnetic property of electrons). "A key unknown has always been whether we could find a way to convert their quantum states to light," said David Christle, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago and lead author of the work. "We knew a light-matter interface should exist, but we might have been unlucky and found it to be intrinsically unsuitable for generating entanglement. We were very fortuitous in that the optical transitions and the process that converts the spin to light is of very high quality."

The defect is a missing atom that causes nearby atoms in the material to rearrange their electrons. The missing atom, or the defect itself, creates an electronic state that researchers control with a tunable infrared laser.

"What quality basically means is: How many photons can you get before you've destroyed the quantum state of the spin?" said Abram Falk, a researcher at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Resarch Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., who is familiar with the work but not a co-author on the paper.

The UChicago researchers found that they could potentially generate up to 10,000 photons, or packets of light, before they destroyed the spin state. "That would be a world record in terms of what you could do with one of these types of defect states," Falk added.

Awschalom's team was able to turn the quantum state of information from single electron spins in commercial wafers of silicon carbide into light and read it out with an efficiency of approximately 95 percent.

Millisecond coherence

The duration of the spin statecalled coherencethat Awschalom's team achieved was a millisecond. Not much by clock standards, but quite a lot in the realm of quantum states, in which multiple calculations can be carried out in a nanosecond, or a billionth of a second.

The feat opens up new possibilities in silicon carbide because its nanoscale defects are a leading platform for new technologies that seek to use quantum mechanical properties for quantum information processing, sensing magnetic and electric fields and temperature with nanoscale resolution, and secure communications using light.

"There's about a billion-dollar industry of power electronics built on silicon carbide," Falk said. "Following this work, there's an opportunity to build a platform for quantum communication that leverages these very advanced classical devices in the semiconductor industry," he said.

Most researchers studying defects for quantum applications have focused on an atomic defect in diamond, which has become a popular visible-light testbed for these technologies.

"Diamond has been this huge industry of quantum control work," Falk noted. Dozens of research groups across the country have spent more than a decade perfecting the material to achieve standards that Awschalom's group has mastered in silicon carbide after only a few years of investigation.

Silicon carbide versatility

"There are many different forms of silicon carbide, and some of them are commonly used today in electronics and optoelectronics," Awschalom said. "Quantum states are present in all forms of silicon carbide that we've explored. This bodes well for introducing quantum mechanical effects into both electronic and optical technologies."

Researchers now are beginning to wonder if this type of physics also may work in other materials, Falk noted.

"Moreover, can we rationally design a defect that has the properties we want, not just stumble into one?" he asked.

Defects are the key.

"For decades the electronics industry has come up with a myriad of tricks to remove all the defects from their devices because defects often cause problems in conventional electronics," Awschalom explained. "Ironically, we're putting the defects back in for quantum systems."

Explore further: Exceptionally robust quantum states found in industrially important semiconductor

More information: "Isolated Spin Qubuits in SiC with a High-Fidelity Infrared Spin-to-Photon Interface," Physical Review X (2017). journals.aps.org/prx/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevX.7.021046

Harnessing solid-state quantum bits, or qubits, is a key step toward the mass production of electronic devices based on quantum information science and technology. However, realizing a robust qubit with a long lifetime is ...

A discovery by physicists at UC Santa Barbara may earn silicon carbide -- a semiconductor commonly used by the electronics industry -- a role at the center of a new generation of information technologies designed to exploit ...

Quantum computersa possible future technology that would revolutionize computing by harnessing the bizarre properties of quantum bits, or qubits. Qubits are the quantum analogue to the classical computer bits "0" and "1." ...

An electronics technology that uses the "spin" - or magnetization - of atomic nuclei to store and process information promises huge gains in performance over today's electron-based devices. But getting there is proving challenging.

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Entanglement is one of the strangest phenomena predicted by quantum mechanics, the theory that underlies most of modern physics. It says that two particles can be so inextricably connected that the state of one particle can ...

An international team led by the University of Chicago's Institute for Molecular Engineering has discovered how to manipulate a weird quantum interface between light and matter in silicon carbide along wavelengths used in ...

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory discovered that they could functionalize magnetic materials through a thoroughly unlikely method, by adding amounts of the virtually non-magnetic element scandium ...

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How many times is Phys.org going to repeat this fallacy ?

The distance of this influence is definitely limited by decoherence, i.e. the tendency of vacuum fluctuations (which manifest itself like the CMB radiation and thermal noise) to disrupt the entangled state (i.e. to desynchronize pilot waves of entangled objects). Inside the diamond or silicon carbide (which is similar to diamond in many extents) the strength of bonds between atoms is so high, that the effects of thermal vibrations are diminished, which makes these materials perspective systems for storage of spin and another states of atoms. I just don't think, that these states are quantized, because they require many quanta of energy (more than 10.000 photons) for switching their spin state. IMO they're rather close to classical systems of storage information within laser pulses, like the layers of dyes etc.. The another question whether the speed of this influence is infinite is also disputable, despite that we have indicia, in pure quantum system it gets actually superluminal.

Entanglement is two photons created at the source with opposite spins which sum to zero. There is no such thing as spooky action at a distance, full stop.

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How quantum physics could revolutionize casinos and betting if you can understand it – Casinopedia

Posted: June 23, 2017 at 6:47 am

By Ivan Potocki, ContributorPublished: June 22, 2017 07:01 EST

Many of the answers to lifes great questions have been laid at the door of the mega-brained scientists who specialise in quantum physics. Is there evidence of a god? How did the universe begin?

But what about using the theories to revolutionize how we play casinos?

A team of scientists from China and Bristol has come up with the idea of a gambling protocol that doesnt depend on the integrity of the participants. Instead, this new protocol is founded on the idea of rationality the rational notion that both parties will make decisions they perceive give them the best winning chances.

This new protocol is based on the mix of game theory and quantum mechanics, and scientists believe it could find its application in casinos and lotteries sometime in the future.

It is nearly impossible for two players to gamble, putting something of value on the line, without having a third party supervising the game because of the temptation to bend the rules or cheat. This third party is necessary to make sure everything is fair, and everyone keeps their end of the bargain. However, it seems that quantum mechanics has a solution that would remove the need for the third party altogether.

The idea of quantum gambling revolves around the concept of a theoretical machine constructed between two participating players. The machine works based on two important principles: quantum superposition and Heisenbergs uncertainty principle.

The uncertainty principle is a bit hard to understand for people not familiar with quantum mechanics, but it basically states that observing a particle will create changes in its behavior. Quantum superposition means that the particle can be in the two different states at once.

If this sounds confusing, thats because it is.

But, the gist of it all is, it would create a situation where one player knows the state of two particles on his or her side but doesnt know if the states will change by the time they reach the other player. The other player has an option to try and guess the state of the particle hes been sent, or ask for a different one.

In theory, this would create an environment where both players need to adhere to the best strategy, creating Nash equilibrium.

In this situation, they are playing a zero sum game, and there is no need for third parties to supervise the game. Although this idea only exists on paper at this time, scientists believe it can be used to develop a range of new gambling protocols based on quantum mechanics.

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How quantum physics could revolutionize casinos and betting if you can understand it - Casinopedia

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Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator? – Phys.org – Phys.Org

Posted: at 6:47 am

June 22, 2017 Artist's rendering of a quantum thermometer. Credit: Emily Edwards/JQI

In an arranged marriage of optics and mechanics, physicists have created microscopic structural beams that have a variety of powerful uses when light strikes them. Able to operate in ordinary, room-temperature environments, yet exploiting some of the deepest principles of quantum physics, these optomechanical systems can act as inherently accurate thermometers, or conversely, as a type of optical shield that diverts heat. The research was performed by a team led by the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), a research collaboration of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland.

Described in a pair of new papers in Science and Physical Review Letters, the potential applications include chip-based temperature sensors for electronics and biology that would never need to be adjusted since they rely on fundamental constants of nature; tiny refrigerators that can cool state-of-the-art microscope components for higher-quality images; and improved "metamaterials" that could allow researchers to manipulate light and sound in new ways.

Made of silicon nitride, a widely used material in the electronics and photonics industries, the beams are about 20 microns (20 millionths of a meter) in length. They are transparent, with a row of holes drilled through them to enhance their optical and mechanical properties.

"You can send light down this beam because it's a transparent material. You can also send sound waves down the beam," explained Tom Purdy, a NIST physicist who is an author on both papers. The researchers believe the beams could lead to better thermometers, which are now ubiquitous in our devices, including cell phones.

"Essentially we're carrying a bunch of thermometers around with us all the time," said JQI Fellow Jake Taylor, senior author of the new papers. "Some provide temperature readings, and others let you know if your chip is too hot or your battery is too cold. Thermometers also play a crucial role in transportation systemsairplanes, carsand tell you if your engine oil is overheating."

But the problem is that these thermometers are not accurate off the shelf. They need to be calibrated, or adjusted, to some standard. The design of the silicon nitride beam avoids this situation by relying on fundamental physics. To use the beam as a thermometer, researchers must be able to measure the tiniest possible vibrations in the beam. The amount that the beam vibrates is proportional to the temperature of its surroundings.

The vibrations can come from two kinds of sources. The first are ordinary "thermal" sources such as gas molecules buffeting the beam or sound waves passing through it. The second source of vibration comes purely from the world of quantum mechanics, the theory that governs behavior of matter at the atomic scale. The quantum behavior occurs when the researchers send particles of light, or photons, down the beam. Struck by light, the mechanical beam reflects the photons, and recoils in the process, creating small vibrations in the beam. Sometimes these quantum-based effects are described using the Heisenberg uncertainty relationshipthe photon bounce leads to information about the beam's position, but because it imparts vibrations to the beam, it adds uncertainty to the beam's velocity.

"The quantum mechanical fluctuations give us a reference point because essentially, you can't make the system move less than that," Taylor said. By plugging in values of Boltzmann's constant and Planck's constant, the researchers can calculate the temperature. And given that reference point, when the researchers measure more motion in the beam, such as from thermal sources, they can accurately extrapolate the temperature of the environment.

However, the quantum fluctuations are a million times fainter than the thermal vibrations; detecting them is like hearing a pin drop in the middle of a shower.

In their experiments, the researchers used a state-of-the-art silicon nitride beam built by Karen Grutter and Kartik Srinivasan at NIST's Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. By shining high-quality photons at the beam and analyzing photons emitted from the beam shortly thereafter, "we see a little bit of the quantum vibrational motion picked up in the output of light," Purdy explained. Their measurement approach is sensitive enough to see these quantum effects all the way up to room temperature for the first time, and is published in this week's issue of Science.

Although the experimental thermometers are in a proof-of-concept phase, the researchers envision they could be particularly valuable in electronic devices, as on-chip thermometers that never need calibration, and in biology.

"Biological processes, in general, are very sensitive to temperature, as anyone who has a sick child knows. The difference between 37 and 39 degrees Celsius is pretty large," Taylor said. He foresees applications in biotechnology, when you want to measure temperature changes in "as small an amount of product as possible," he said.

The researchers go in the opposite direction in a second proposed application for the beams, described in a theoretical paper published in Physical Review Letters.

Instead of letting heat hit the beam and allow it to serve as a temperature probe, the researchers propose using the beam to divert the heat from, for example, a sensitive part of an electromechanical device.

In their proposed setup, the researchers enclose the beam in a cavity, a pair of mirrors that bounce light back and forth. They use light to control the vibrations of the beam so that the beam cannot re-radiate incoming heat in its usual direction, towards a colder object.

For this application, Taylor likens the behavior of the beam to a tuning fork. When you hold a tuning fork and strike it, it radiates pure sound tones instead of allowing that motion to turn into heat, which travels down the fork and into your hand.

"A tuning fork rings for a long time, even in air," he said. The two prongs of the fork vibrate in opposite directions, he explained, and cancel out a way for energy to leave the bottom of the fork through your hand.

The researchers even imagine using an optically controlled silicon nitride beam as the tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM), which detects forces on surfaces to build up atom-scale images. An optically controlled AFM tip would stay cooland perform better. "You're removing thermal motion, which makes it easier to see signals," Taylor explained.

This technique also could be put to use to make better metamaterials, complex composite objects that manipulate light or sound in new ways and could be used to make better lenses or even so-called "invisibility cloaks" that cause certain wavelengths of light to pass through an object rather than bouncing from it.

"Metamaterials are our answer to, 'How do we make materials that capture the best properties for light and sound, or for heat and motion?'" Taylor said. "It's a technique that has been widely used in engineering, but combining the light and sound together remains still a bit open on how far we can go with it, and this provides a new tool for exploring that space."

Explore further: Fundamentally accurate quantum thermometer created

More information: "Quantum correlations from a room-temperature optomechanical cavity" Science (2017). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.aag1407

Xunnong Xu et al. Cooling a Harmonic Oscillator by Optomechanical Modification of Its Bath, Physical Review Letters (2017). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.223602

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Elemental metals usually form simple, close-packed crystalline structures. Though lithium (Li) is considered a typical simple metal, its crystal structure at ambient pressure and low temperature remains unknown.

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BMW and Volkswagen Try to Beat Apple and Google at Their Own Game – New York Times

Posted: at 6:47 am

Big data is a challenge for all automakers, but especially German companies because they target affluent customers who want the latest technology.

At the same time, the focus on computing pits the automakers against Silicon Valley tech companies with far more experience in the field, and creates an opening for firms like Apple and Google, which are already encroaching on the car business.

Google has long been working on self-driving or autonomous cars, and Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, said this month that the company best known for making iPhones is focusing on autonomous systems for cars and other applications.

That has put pressure on automakers. German companies in particular have already made investments in ride-sharing services, in part to combat the rise of Uber, and are now looking further into the future.

Efforts by Volkswagen, trying to remake itself as a technology leader as it recovers from an emissions scandal, show how far into exotic realms of technology carmakers are willing to go.

Volkswagen, a German company, recently joined the handful of large corporations worldwide that are customers of D-Wave Systems, a Canadian maker of computers that apply the mind-bending principles of quantum physics.

While some experts question their usefulness, D-Wave computers housed in tall, matte black cases that recall the obelisks in the science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey can in theory process massive amounts of information at unheard-of speeds. Martin Hofmann, Volkswagens chief information officer, is a believer.

For us, its a new era of technology, Mr. Hofmann said in an interview at Volkswagens vast factory complex in Wolfsburg, Germany.

First theorized in the 1980s, quantum computers seek to harness the strange and counterintuitive world of quantum physics, which studies the behavior of particles at the atomic and subatomic level. While classical computers are based on bits with a value of either 1 or 0, the qubits in a quantum computer can exist in multiple states at the same time. That allows them, in theory, to perform calculations that would be beyond the powers of a typical computer.

This year Volkswagen used a D-Wave computer to demonstrate how it could steer the movements of 10,000 taxis in Beijing at once, optimizing their routes and thereby reducing congestion.

Because traffic patterns morph constantly, the challenge is to gather and analyze vehicle flows quickly enough for the data to be useful. The D-Wave computer was able to process in a few seconds information that would take a conventional supercomputer 30 minutes, said Florian Neukart, a scientist at a Volkswagen lab in San Francisco.

Such claims are met with skepticism by some experts, who say there is no convincing proof that D-Wave computers are faster than a well-programmed conventional supercomputer. And unlike a quantum computer, a supercomputer does not have components that must be kept at temperatures colder than deep space.

If this were an application where D-Wave were actually faster, then it would be the first time wed ever seen that, said Scott Aaronson, a vocal D-Wave skeptic who is a professor of theoretical computer science at the University of Texas at Austin.

It would be particularly astonishing that this milestone should happen first for a Volkswagen application problem, Mr. Aaronson said in an email.

Volkswagen executives say they will publish the results of their work with D-Wave computers, allowing outsiders to try to debunk them.

If the D-Wave collaboration proves to be a misstep for Volkswagen, it would illustrate the hazards of big data for companies whose main focus for the past century has been the internal combustion engine. It also reflects the stakes for one of the worlds biggest carmakers.

Suppliers are also gearing up for an era of automotive big data. Bosch, the electronics maker based in a suburb of Stuttgart, said Monday that it would invest 1 billion euros, or $1.1 billion, to build a new factory in Dresden to produce chips for a variety of applications, including the sensors used in self-driving cars.

Bosch prefers to build its own chips rather than buy them from a supplier, said Christine Haas, director for connected services at the company. When you have done it yourself, then you have a much deeper understanding of the technology, she said.

Some car companies have decided to concentrate on what they do best and let others handle the computing.

Volvo Cars has been a pioneer in marrying digital technology and automobiles. It has turned to outside providers like Ericsson, a Swedish maker of telecommunications equipment, for computer technology. In May, Volvo said it would install Googles Android operating system in new cars beginning in 2019. And the company is cooperating with Uber to develop self-driving cars.

We are trying to embrace it, said Martin Kristensson, senior director for autonomous driving and connectivity strategy at Volvo, of the challenge from Silicon Valley.

But, like Volkswagen, many are trying to develop capabilities in-house. Mr. Stolle of BMW said that the carmaker which hired more information technology specialists last year than mechanical engineers needs huge data-crunching capability.

The company has a fleet of 40 prototype autonomous cars it is testing in cooperation with Intel, a chip maker; Mobileye, an Israeli self-driving technology company; and Delphi, an auto components supplier.

BMW uses artificial intelligence to analyze the enormous amounts of data compiled from test drives, part of a quest to build cars that can learn from experience and eventually drive themselves without human intervention.

After test sessions, hard disks in the cars are physically removed and connected to racks of computers at BMWs research center near Munich. The data collected would fill the equivalent of a stack of DVDs 60 miles high, Mr. Stolle said.

That is much more than could be efficiently transmitted over the internet to remote data storage facilities operated by outside providers in the cloud.

A large part of the data center has to be on premises, Mr. Stolle said. The amount is so huge it doesnt work in the cloud.

Follow Jack Ewing on Twitter @JackEwingNYT.

A version of this article appears in print on June 23, 2017, on Page B4 of the New York edition with the headline: Europes Car Giants Race to Outsmart Apple and Google.

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