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Quantum entanglement is the phenomenon that occurs when a group of particles are generated, interact, or share spatial proximity in a way such that the quantum state of each particle of the group cannot be described independently of the state of the others, including when the particles are separated by a large distance. The topic of quantum entanglement is at the heart of the disparity between classical and quantum physics: entanglement is a primary feature of quantum mechanics not present in classical mechanics.[1]


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According to some interpretations of quantum mechanics, the effect of one measurement occurs instantly. Other interpretations which do not recognize wavefunction collapse dispute that there is any "effect" at all. However, all interpretations agree that entanglement produces correlation between the measurements, and that the mutual information between the entangled particles can be exploited, but that any transmission of information at faster-than-light speeds is impossible.[9][10]

Quantum entanglement has been demonstrated experimentally with photons,[11][12] electrons,[13][14] and even small diamonds.[15] The use of entanglement in communication, computation and quantum radar is a very active area of research and development.

Schrödinger shortly thereafter published a seminal paper defining and discussing the notion of "entanglement." In the paper, he recognized the importance of the concept, and stated:[3] "I would not call [entanglement] one but rather the characteristic trait of quantum mechanics, the one that enforces its entire departure from classical lines of thought."Like Einstein, Schrödinger was dissatisfied with the concept of entanglement, because it seemed to violate the speed limit on the transmission of information implicit in the theory of relativity.[18] Einstein later famously derided entanglement as "spukhafte Fernwirkung"[19] or "spooky action at a distance."

Bell's work raised the possibility of using these super-strong correlations as a resource for communication. It led to the 1984 discovery of quantum key distribution protocols, most famously BB84 by Charles H. Bennett and Gilles Brassard[26] and E91 by Artur Ekert.[27] Although BB84 does not use entanglement, Ekert's protocol uses the violation of a Bell's inequality as a proof of security.

An entangled system is defined to be one whose quantum state cannot be factored as a product of states of its local constituents; that is to say, they are not individual particles but are an inseparable whole. In entanglement, one constituent cannot be fully described without considering the other(s). The state of a composite system is always expressible as a sum, or superposition, of products of states of local constituents; it is entangled if this sum cannot be written as a single product term.

Quantum systems can become entangled through various types of interactions. For some ways in which entanglement may be achieved for experimental purposes, see the section below on methods. Entanglement is broken when the entangled particles decohere through interaction with the environment; for example, when a measurement is made.[29]

As an example of entanglement: a subatomic particle decays into an entangled pair of other particles. The decay events obey the various conservation laws, and as a result, the measurement outcomes of one daughter particle must be highly correlated with the measurement outcomes of the other daughter particle (so that the total momenta, angular momenta, energy, and so forth remains roughly the same before and after this process). For instance, a spin-zero particle could decay into a pair of spin-1/2 particles. Since the total spin before and after this decay must be zero (conservation of angular momentum), whenever the first particle is measured to be spin up on some axis, the other, when measured on the same axis, is always found to be spin down. (This is called the spin anti-correlated case; and if the prior probabilities for measuring each spin are equal, the pair is said to be in the singlet state.)

(In fact similar paradoxes can arise even without entanglement: the position of a single particle is spread out over space, and two widely separated detectors attempting to detect the particle in two different places must instantaneously attain appropriate correlation, so that they do not both detect the particle.)

The first experiment that verified Einstein's spooky action at a distance (entanglement) was successfully corroborated in a lab by Chien-Shiung Wu and colleague I. Shaknov in 1949, and was published on New Year's Day in 1950. The result specifically proved the quantum correlations of a pair of photons.[37] In experiments in 2012 and 2013, polarization correlation was created between photons that never coexisted in time.[38][39] The authors claimed that this result was achieved by entanglement swapping between two pairs of entangled photons after measuring the polarization of one photon of the early pair, and that it proves that quantum non-locality applies not only to space but also to time.

Since 2016, various companies, for example IBM and Microsoft, have created quantum computers that allowed developers and tech enthusiasts to freely experiment with concepts of quantum mechanics including quantum entanglement.[43]

Based on AdS/CFT correspondence, Mark Van Raamsdonk suggested that spacetime arises as an emergent phenomenon of the quantum degrees of freedom that are entangled and live in the boundary of the space-time.[48] Induced gravity can emerge from the entanglement first law.[49][50]

In the media and popular science, quantum non-locality is often portrayed as being equivalent to entanglement. While this is true for pure bipartite quantum states, in general entanglement is only necessary for non-local correlations, but there exist mixed entangled states that do not produce such correlations.[51] A well-known example is the Werner states that are entangled for certain values of p s y m \displaystyle p_sym , but can always be described using local hidden variables.[52] Moreover, it was shown that, for arbitrary numbers of particles, there exist states that are genuinely entangled but admit a local model.[53]The mentioned proofs about the existence of local models assume that there is only one copy of the quantum state available at a time. If the particles are allowed to perform local measurements on many copies of such states, then many apparently local states (e.g., the qubit Werner states) can no longer be described by a local model. This is, in particular, true for all distillable states. However, it remains an open question whether all entangled states become non-local given sufficiently many copies.[54]

In short, entanglement of a state shared by two particles is necessary but not sufficient for that state to be non-local. It is important to recognize that entanglement is more commonly viewed as an algebraic concept, noted for being a prerequisite to non-locality as well as to quantum teleportation and to superdense coding, whereas non-locality is defined according to experimental statistics and is much more involved with the foundations and interpretations of quantum mechanics.[55]

In quantum information theory, entangled states are considered a 'resource', i.e., something costly to produce and that allows implementing valuable transformations.[64][65] The setting in which this perspective is most evident is that of "distant labs", i.e., two quantum systems labeled "A" and "B" on each of which arbitrary quantum operations can be performed, but which do not interact with each other quantum mechanically. The only interaction allowed is the exchange of classical information, which combined with the most general local quantum operations gives rise to the class of operations called LOCC (local operations and classical communication). These operations do not allow the production of entangled states between systems A and B. But if A and B are provided with a supply of entangled states, then these, together with LOCC operations can enable a larger class of transformations. For example, an interaction between a qubit of A and a qubit of B can be realized by first teleporting A's qubit to B, then letting it interact with B's qubit (which is now a LOCC operation, since both qubits are in B's lab) and then teleporting the qubit back to A. Two maximally entangled states of two qubits are used up in this process. Thus entangled states are a resource that enables the realization of quantum interactions (or of quantum channels) in a setting where only LOCC are available, but they are consumed in the process. There are other applications where entanglement can be seen as a resource, e.g., private communication or distinguishing quantum states.[66]

Not all quantum states are equally valuable as a resource. To quantify this value, different entanglement measures (see below) can be used, that assign a numerical value to each quantum state. However, it is often interesting to settle for a coarser way to compare quantum states. This gives rise to different classification schemes. Most entanglement classes are defined based on whether states can be converted to other states using LOCC or a subclass of these operations. The smaller the set of allowed operations, the finer the classification. Important examples are:

A different entanglement classification is based on what the quantum correlations present in a state allow A and B to do: one distinguishes three subsets of entangled states: (1) the non-local states, which produce correlations that cannot be explained by a local hidden variable model and thus violate a Bell inequality, (2) the steerable states that contain sufficient correlations for A to modify ("steer") by local measurements the conditional reduced state of B in such a way, that A can prove to B that the state they possess is indeed entangled, and finally (3) those entangled states that are neither non-local nor steerable. All three sets are non-empty.[72] 041b061a72

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