Professor Stephen Blundell and DPhil student (and former Mansfield MCR President) John Wilkinson have observed the decoherence process that occurs within quantum mechanical systems. Their recent paper is the “Editors’ Suggestion” article in the leading Physics journal Physical Review Letters.

Despite the many potential advantages of quantum computation, the integrity of any quantum mechanical system is vulnerable to interactions with its environment which cause any stored information to be slowly lost, a process that is called decoherence.

In their paper published in Physical Review Letters, John Wilkinson and Stephen Blundell show that an interesting realisation of decoherence occurs when a spin-polarised muon, an unstable radioactive particle, is implanted inside a crystal of an inorganic fluoride. They make a connection between the degrading of quantum information and the “entropy” of the muon and fluorine spins. The experiments were performed using very intense beams of spin-polarised muons at the ISIS Pulsed Muon Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory on the Harwell campus in Oxfordshire.


Read more about the paper on the Oxford Department of Physics website.

Read the paper here:

Information and decoherence in a muon-fluorine coupled system (link is external), J. M. Wilkinson and S. J. Blundell, Physical Review Letters 125, 087201 (2020) (Editors’ suggestion),