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Quantum mechanics |
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Fundamental concepts |

**Quantum entanglement** is a physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs (or groups) of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each member must subsequently be described relative to the other.

Quantum entanglement is a product of quantum superposition. However, the state of each member is indefinite in terms of physical properties such as position,^{[1]} momentum, spin, polarization, etc. in a manner distinct from the intrinsic uncertainty of quantum superposition. When a measurement is made on one member of an entangled pair and the outcome is thus known (e.g., clockwise spin), the other member of the pair is at any subsequent time^{[2]} always found (when measured) to have taken the appropriately correlated value (e.g., counterclockwise spin). There is thus a correlation between the results of measurements performed on entangled pairs, and this correlation is observed even though the entangled pair may be separated by arbitrarily large distances.^{[3]} Repeated experiments have verified that this works even when the measurements are performed more quickly than light could travel between the sites of measurement: there is no lightspeed or slower influence that can pass between the entangled particles.^{[4]} Recent experiments have measured entangled particles within less than one part in 10,000 of the light travel time between them;^{[5]} according to the formalism of quantum theory, the effect of measurement happens instantly.^{[6]}^{[7]}

This behavior is consistent with quantum theory, and has been demonstrated experimentally with photons, electrons, molecules the size of buckyballs,^{[8]}^{[9]} and even small diamonds.^{[10]}^{[11]} It is an area of extremely active research by the physics community. However, there is some heated debate^{[12]} about whether a possible classical underlying mechanism could explain entanglement. The difference in opinion derives from espousal of various interpretations of quantum mechanics.

Research into quantum entanglement was initiated by a 1935 paper by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen describing the EPR paradox^{[13]} and several papers by Erwin Schrödinger shortly thereafter.^{[14]}^{[15]} Although these first studies focused on the counterintuitive properties of entanglement, with the aim of criticizing quantum mechanics, eventually entanglement was verified experimentally,^{[16]} and recognized as a valid, fundamental feature of quantum mechanics. The focus of the research has now changed to its utilization as a resource for communication and computation.

The counterintuitive predictions of quantum mechanics about strongly correlated systems were first discussed by Albert Einstein in 1935, in a joint paper with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen.^{[13]} In this study, they formulated the EPR paradox (Einstein, Podolsky, Rosen paradox), a thought experiment that attempted to show that quantum mechanical theory was incomplete. They wrote: "We are thus forced to conclude that the quantum-mechanical description of physical reality given by wave functions is not complete."^{[13]}

However, they did not coin the word *entanglement,* nor did they generalize the special properties of the state they considered. Following the EPR paper, Erwin Schrödinger wrote a letter (in German) to Einstein in which he used the word *Verschränkung* (translated by himself as *entanglement*) "to describe the correlations between two particles that interact and then separate, as in the EPR experiment."^{[17]} He shortly thereafter published a seminal paper defining and discussing the notion, and terming it "entanglement." In the paper he recognized the importance of the concept, and stated:^{[14]} "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."

The EPR paper generated significant interest among physicists and inspired much discussion about the foundations of quantum mechanics (perhaps most famously Bohm's interpretation of quantum mechanics), but relatively little other published work. So, despite the interest, the flaw in EPR's argument was not discovered until 1964, when John Stewart Bell proved that one of their key assumptions, the principle of locality, was not consistent with the hidden variables interpretation of quantum theory that EPR purported to establish. Specifically, he demonstrated an upper limit, seen in Bell's inequality, regarding the strength of correlations that can be produced in any theory obeying local realism, and he showed that quantum theory predicts violations of this limit for certain entangled systems.^{[20]} His inequality is experimentally testable, and there have been numerous relevant experiments, starting with the pioneering work of Freedman and Clauser in 1972^{[21]} and Aspect's experiments in 1982.^{[22]} They have all shown agreement with quantum mechanics rather than the principle of local realism. However, the issue is not finally settled, for each of these experimental tests has left open at least one loophole by which it is possible to question the validity of the results.

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

David Kaiser of MIT mentioned in his book, *How the Hippies Saved Physics*, that the possibilities of instantaneous long-range communication derived from Bell's theorem stirred interest among hippies, psychics, and even the CIA, with the counter-culture playing a critical role in its development toward practical use.^{[23]}

This section's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (October 2013) |

Quantum systems can become entangled through various types of interactions (see section on methods below). Quantum entanglement is a product of quantum superposition, i.e., of the fundamental aspect of quantum mechanics where the complete state of a system is expressed as a sum of basis states, or eigenstates of some observable(s). Though it is common to speak of single quantum systems as existing in superpositions of basis states, the same is also valid for the quantum state of a pair or group of quantum systems. If the quantum state of a pair of particles is in a definite superposition, and that superposition cannot be factored out into the product of two states (one for each particle), then that pair is entangled. If entangled, one constituent cannot be fully described without considering the other(s). They remain entangled until a measurement is made and they decohere through interaction with the environment (i.e. measurement device).^{[24]}

An example of entanglement occurs when a subatomic particle decays into a pair of other particles. These 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, the other when measured is always found to be spin down. This type of entangled pair, where the particles always have opposite spin, is known as the *spin anti-correlated* case, and if the probabilities for measuring each spin are equal, the pair is said to be in the singlet state.

For example, assume that each of two hypothetical experimenters, Alice and Bob, measure the spin of one of a pair of entangled particles (with zero total spin). If Alice makes the measurement first, then her result will be entirely unpredictable, with a 50% probability of the spin being up or down. If Bob subsequently measures the spin of his particle, the measurement will be entirely predictable―always opposite to Alice's, hence perfectly anti-correlated.

The correlation seen with aligned measurements (i.e., up and down only) can be simulated classically. To make an analogous experiment, a coin might be sliced along the circumference into two half-coins, in such a way that each half-coin is either "heads" or "tails", and each half-coin put in a separate envelope and distributed respectively to Alice and to Bob, randomly. If Alice then "measures" her half-coin, by opening her envelope, for her the measurement will be unpredictable, with a 50% probability of her half-coin being "heads" or "tails", and Bob's "measurement" of his half-coin will always be opposite, hence perfectly anti-correlated.

If Alice and Bob measure the spin of their respective particles in directions other than just along the same axis, and check whether or not the results follow Bell's inequality, they would find that the entangled bipartite pure system always violates Bell's inequality, while the classical system must always satisfy Bell's inequality. Bell's inequality is a very sensitive tool for judging quantum entanglement. The correlation of quantum entanglement can not be explained simply using the concepts of classical physics. It's not possible to find analogous example in classical physics.

The fundamental issue about measuring spin along different axes is that these measurements cannot have definite values at the same time―they are incompatible in the sense that these measurements' maximum simultaneous precision is constrained by the uncertainty principle. In classical physics this does not make sense, since any number of properties can be measured simultaneously with arbitrary accuracy. Bell's theorem implies, and it has been proven mathematically, that compatible measurements cannot show Bell-like correlations,^{[25]} and thus entanglement is a fundamentally non-classical phenomenon.

Entanglement is required to preserve the Uncertainty principle, as seen in the EPR paradox. For example, say that a high energy photon decays into an electron / positron pair, and the position of the electron and the momentum of the positron are then measured. If we don't allow entanglement in the physical description of the pair, the position and momentum of each particle can still be deduced by reference to the conservation of momentum, violating the Uncertainty principle. Alternatively, if we require the uncertainty principle to hold true, and still disallow entanglement in the physical description of the pair, the uncertainty principle would allow violations in the law of conservation of momentum, because strong correlation in both position and momentum would be impossible (i.e. one would not be able to effectively deduce the position and momentum of the electron because they could not be highly correlated with both the position and momentum of the positron).

Even when measurements of the entangled particles are made in moving relativistic reference frames, in which each respective measurement occurs before the other, the measurement results remain correlated.^{[26]}^{[27]}

In a 2012 experiment, "delayed-choice entanglement swapping" was used to decide whether two particles were entangled or not after they had already been measured.^{[28]}

In a 2013 experiment, entanglement swapping has been used to create entanglement between photons that never coexisted in time, thus demonstrating that "the nonlocality of quantum mechanics, as manifested by entanglement, does not apply only to particles with spacelike separation, but also to particles with timelike [i.e., temporal] separation".^{[29]}

In three independent experiments was shown that classical separable states can carry entangled states.^{[30]}

There is much confusion about the meaning of entanglement, non-locality and hidden variables and how they relate to each other. As described above, entanglement is an experimentally verified and accepted property of nature, which has critical implications for the interpretations of quantum mechanics. The question becomes, "How can one account for something that was at one point indefinite with regard to its spin (or whatever is in this case the subject of investigation) suddenly becoming definite in that regard even though no physical interaction with the second object occurred, and, if the two objects are sufficiently far separated, could not even have had the time needed for such an interaction to proceed from the first to the second object?"^{[31]} The latter question involves the issue of locality, i.e., whether for a change to occur in something the agent of change has to be in physical contact (at least via some intermediary such as a field force) with the thing that changes. Study of entanglement brings into sharp focus the dilemma between locality and the completeness or lack of completeness of quantum mechanics.

Bell's theorem and related results rule out a local realistic explanation for quantum mechanics (one which obeys the principle of locality while also ascribing definite values to quantum observables). However, in other interpretations, the experiments that demonstrate the apparent non-locality can also be described in local terms: If each distant observer regards the other as a quantum system, communication between the two must then be treated as a measurement process, and this communication is strictly local.^{[32]} In particular, in the many worlds interpretation, the underlying description is fully local.^{[33]} More generally, the question of locality in quantum physics is extraordinarily subtle and sometimes hinges on precisely how it is defined.

In the media and popular science, quantum non-locality is often portrayed as being equivalent to entanglement. While it is true that a bipartite quantum state must be entangled in order for it to produce non-local correlations, there exist entangled states that do not produce such correlations. A well-known example of this is the Werner state that is entangled for certain values of , but can always be described using local hidden variables.^{[34]} In short, entanglement of a two-party state is necessary but not sufficient for that state to be non-local. It is important to recognise that entanglement is more commonly viewed as an algebraic concept, noted for being a precedent 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.

The following subsections are for those with a good working knowledge of the formal, mathematical description of quantum mechanics, including familiarity with the formalism and theoretical framework developed in the articles: bra-ket notation and mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics.

Consider two noninteracting systems and , with respective Hilbert spaces and . The Hilbert space of the composite system is the tensor product

If the first system is in state and the second in state , the state of the composite system is

States of the composite system which can be represented in this form are called *separable states*, or (in the simplest case) *product states*.

Not all states are separable states (and thus product states). Fix a basis for and a basis for . The most general state in is of the form

- .

This state is separable if yielding and It is inseparable if If a state is inseparable, it is called an *entangled state*.

For example, given two basis vectors of and two basis vectors of , the following is an entangled state:

- .

If the composite system is in this state, it is impossible to attribute to either system or system a definite pure state. Another way to say this is that while the von Neumann entropy of the whole state is zero (as it is for any pure state), the entropy of the subsystems is greater than zero. In this sense, the systems are "entangled". This has specific empirical ramifications for interferometry.^{[35]} It is worthwhile to note that the above example is one of four Bell states, which are (maximally) entangled pure states (pure states of the space, but which cannot be separated into pure states of each and ).

Now suppose Alice is an observer for system , and Bob is an observer for system . If in the entangled state given above Alice makes a measurement in the eigenbasis of A, there are two possible outcomes, occurring with equal probability:^{[36]}

- Alice measures 0, and the state of the system collapses to .
- Alice measures 1, and the state of the system collapses to .

If the former occurs, then any subsequent measurement performed by Bob, in the same basis, will always return 1. If the latter occurs, (Alice measures 1) then Bob's measurement will return 0 with certainty. Thus, system *B* has been altered by Alice performing a local measurement on system *A*. This remains true even if the systems *A* and *B* are spatially separated. This is the foundation of the EPR paradox.

The outcome of Alice's measurement is random. Alice cannot decide which state to collapse the composite system into, and therefore cannot transmit information to Bob by acting on her system. Causality is thus preserved, in this particular scheme. For the general argument, see no-communication theorem.

As mentioned above, a state of a quantum system is given by a unit vector in a Hilbert space. More generally, if one has a large number of copies of the same system, then the state of this *ensemble* is described by a density matrix, which is a positive matrix, or a trace class when the state space is infinite dimensional, and has trace 1. Again, by the spectral theorem, such a matrix takes the general form:

where the positive valued 's sum up to 1, and in the infinite dimensional case, we would take the closure of such states in the trace norm. We can interpret as representing an ensemble where is the proportion of the ensemble whose states are . When a mixed state has rank 1, it therefore describes a *pure ensemble*. When there is less than total information about the state of a quantum system we need density matrices to represent the state.

Following the definition in previous section, for a bipartite composite system, mixed states are just density matrices on . Extending the definition of separability from the pure case, we say that a mixed state is separable if it can be written as^{[37]}^{:131–132}

where 's are positive valued probabilities, 's and 's are themselves states on the subsystems *A* and *B* respectively. In other words, a state is separable if it is a probability distribution over uncorrelated states, or product states. We can assume without loss of generality that and are pure ensembles. A state is then said to be *entangled* if it is not separable. In general, finding out whether or not a mixed state is entangled is considered difficult. The general bipartite case has been shown to be NP-hard.^{[38]} For the and cases, a necessary and sufficient criterion for separability is given by the famous Positive Partial Transpose (PPT) condition.^{[39]}

Experimentally, a mixed ensemble might be realized as follows. Consider a "black-box" apparatus that spits electrons towards an observer. The electrons' Hilbert spaces are identical. The apparatus might produce electrons that are all in the same state; in this case, the electrons received by the observer are then a pure ensemble. However, the apparatus could produce electrons in different states. For example, it could produce two populations of electrons: one with state with spins aligned in the positive direction, and the other with state with spins aligned in the negative direction. Generally, this is a mixed ensemble, as there can be any number of populations, each corresponding to a different state.

The idea of a reduced density matrix was introduced by Paul Dirac in 1930.^{[40]} Consider as above systems and each with a Hilbert space , . Let the state of the composite system be

As indicated above, in general there is no way to associate a pure state to the component system . However, it still is possible to associate a density matrix. Let

- .

which is the projection operator onto this state. The state of is the partial trace of over the basis of system :

- .

is sometimes called the reduced density matrix of on subsystem *A*. Colloquially, we "trace out" system *B* to obtain the reduced density matrix on *A*.

For example, the reduced density matrix of for the entangled state discussed above is

This demonstrates that, as expected, the reduced density matrix for an entangled pure ensemble is a mixed ensemble. Also not surprisingly, the density matrix of for the pure product state discussed above is

In general, a bipartite pure state ρ is entangled if and only if its reduced states are mixed rather than pure. Reduced density matrices were explicitly calculated in different spin chains with unique ground state. An example is the one dimensional AKLT spin chain:^{[41]} the ground state can be divided into a block and an environment. The reduced density matrix of the block is proportional to a projector to a degenerate ground state of another Hamiltonian.

The reduced density matrix also was evaluated for XY spin chains, where it has full rank. It was proved that in the thermodynamic limit, the spectrum of the reduced density matrix of a large block of spins is an exact geometric sequence^{[42]} in this case.

In this section, the entropy of a mixed state is discussed as well as how it can be viewed as a measure of quantum entanglement.

In classical information theory, the Shannon entropy, is associated to a probability distribution,, in the following way:^{[43]}

- .

Since a mixed state ρ is a probability distribution over an ensemble, this leads naturally to the definition of the von Neumann entropy:

- .

In general, one uses the Borel functional calculus to calculate . If ρ acts on a finite dimensional Hilbert space and has eigenvalues , the Shannon entropy is recovered:

- .

Since an event of probability 0 should not contribute to the entropy, and given that , the convention is adopted that . This extends to the infinite dimensional case as well: if ρ has spectral resolution , assume the same convention when calculating

As in statistical mechanics, the more uncertainty (number of microstates) the system should possess, the larger the entropy. For example, the entropy of any pure state is zero, which is unsurprising since there is no uncertainty about a system in a pure state. The entropy of any of the two subsystems of the entangled state discussed above is (which can be shown to be the maximum entropy for mixed states).

Entropy provides one tool which can be used to quantify entanglement, although other entanglement measures exist.^{[44]} If the overall system is pure, the entropy of one subsystem can be used to measure its degree of entanglement with the other subsystems.

For bipartite pure states, the von Neumann entropy of reduced states is the unique measure of entanglement in the sense that it is the only function on the family of states that satisfies certain axioms required of an entanglement measure.

It is a classical result that the Shannon entropy achieves its maximum at, and only at, the uniform probability distribution {1/*n*,...,1/*n*}. Therefore, a bipartite pure state

is said to be a **maximally entangled state** if the reduced state of *ρ* is the diagonal matrix

For mixed states, the reduced von Neumann entropy is not the unique entanglement measure.

As an aside, the information-theoretic definition is closely related to entropy in the sense of statistical mechanics^{[citation needed]} (comparing the two definitions, we note that, in the present context, it is customary to set the Boltzmann constant ). For example, by properties of the Borel functional calculus, we see that for any unitary operator *U*,

Indeed, without the above property, the von Neumann entropy would not be well-defined. In particular, *U* could be the time evolution operator of the system, i.e.

where *H* is the Hamiltonian of the system. This associates the reversibility of a process with its resulting entropy change, i.e., a process is reversible if, and only if, it leaves the entropy of the system invariant. This provides a connection between quantum information theory and thermodynamics. Rényi entropy also can be used as a measure of entanglement.

The Reeh-Schlieder theorem of quantum field theory is sometimes seen as an analogue of quantum entanglement.

Entanglement has many applications in quantum information theory. With the aid of entanglement, otherwise impossible tasks may be achieved.

Among the best-known applications of entanglement are superdense coding and quantum teleportation.^{[45]}

Most researchers believe that entanglement is necessary to realize quantum computing (although this is disputed by some^{[46]}).

Entanglement is used in some protocols of quantum cryptography.^{[47]}^{[48]} This is because the "shared noise" of entanglement makes for an excellent one-time pad. Moreover, since measurement of either member of an entangled pair destroys the entanglement they share, entanglement-based quantum cryptography allows the sender and receiver to more easily detect the presence of an interceptor.

In interferometry, entanglement is necessary for surpassing the standard quantum limit and achieving the Heisenberg limit.

There are several canonical entangled states that appear often in theory and experiments.

For two qubits, the Bell states are

- .

These four pure states are all maximally entangled (according to the entropy of entanglement) and form an orthonormal basis (linear algebra) of the Hilbert space of the two qubits. They play a fundamental role in Bell's theorem.

For M>2 qubits, the GHZ state is

which reduces to the Bell state for . The traditional GHZ state was defined for . GHZ states are occasionally extended to *qudits*, i.e. systems of *d* rather than 2 dimensions.

Also for M>2 qubits, there are spin squeezed states.^{[49]} Spin squeezed states are a class of states satisfying certain restrictions on the uncertainty of spin measurements, and are necessarily entangled.^{[50]}

For two bosonic modes, a NOON state is

This is like a Bell state except the basis kets 0 and 1 have been replaced with "the *N* photons are in one mode" and "the *N* photons are in the other mode".

Finally, there also exist twin Fock states for bosonic modes, which can be created by feeding a Fock state into two arms leading to a beam-splitter. They are the sum of multiple of NOON states, and can used to achieve the Heisenberg limit.^{[51]}

For the appropriately chosen measure of entanglement, Bell, GHZ, and NOON states are maximally entangled while spin squeezed and twin Fock states are only partially entangled. The partially entangled states are generally easier to prepare experimentally.

Entanglement is usually created by direct interactions between subatomic particles. These interactions can take numerous forms. One of the most commonly used methods is spontaneous parametric down-conversion to generate a pair of photons entangled in polarisation.^{[52]} Other methods include the use of a fiber coupler to confine and mix photons, the use of quantum dots to trap electrons until decay occurs, the use of the Hong-Ou-Mandel effect, etc. In the earliest tests of Bell's theorem, the entangled particles were generated using atomic cascades.

It is also possible to create entanglement between quantum systems that never directly interacted, through the use of entanglement swapping.

Entangling two black holes, then pulling them apart, forms a wormhole—essentially a "shortcut"—connecting them. Similarly looked at in terms of string theory, entangling two quarks does the same.^{[53]}^{[54]}

These theoretical results support the theory that the laws of gravity are not fundamental, but instead arise from entanglement. While quantum mechanics correctly describes interactions at a microscopic level, it has not been able to explain gravity. A theory of quantum gravity would show that classical gravity is not fundamental, as Albert Einstein proposed, but rather emerges from a more basic, quantum-based phenomenon.^{[53]}

The Schwinger effect creates two particles from a vacuum. Under an electric field, the particles can be "caught" before they disappear back into the vacuum. Once extracted, these particles are entangled. The entangled particles can be mapped in space-time, a four-dimensional space. In contrast, gravity is thought to exist in the fifth dimension as, according to Einstein's laws, it acts to "bend" and shape space-time.^{[53]}

Holographic duality is the principle says that all events in the fifth dimension are translatable into events in the other four.^{[55]} It reveals that a wormhole is created along with the particles. More fundamentally, the results suggest that gravity and its ability to bend space-time emerge from entanglement.^{[53]}

- Concurrence (quantum computing)
- Entanglement distillation
- Entanglement witness
- Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber theory
- Multipartite entanglement
- Observer effect (physics)
- Photon entanglement
- Quantum coherence
- Quantum phase transition
- Quantum pseudo-telepathy
- Retrocausality
- Separable states
- Squashed entanglement
- Ward's probability amplitude
- Wheeler-Feynman absorber theory
- Ansible
- Faster-than-light communication

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- The original EPR paper
- Quantum Entanglement at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- How to entangle photons experimentally (subscription required)
- A creative interpretation of Quantum Entanglement
- Albert's chest: entanglement for lay persons
- How Quantum Entanglement Works
- Explanatory video by Scientific American magazine

- Two Diamonds Linked by Strange Quantum Entanglement
- Entanglement experiment with photon pairs - interactive
- Multiple entanglement and quantum repeating
- Quantum Entanglement and Bell's Theorem at MathPages
- Audio - Cain/Gay (2009) Astronomy Cast Entanglement
- Recorded research seminars at Imperial College relating to quantum entanglement
- Quantum Entanglement and Decoherence: 3rd International Conference on Quantum Information (ICQI)
- Ion trapping quantum information processing
- IEEE Spectrum On-line:
*The trap technique* - Was Einstein Wrong?: A Quantum Threat to Special Relativity
- Citizendium: Entanglement
- Spooky Actions At A Distance?: Oppenheimer Lecture, Prof. David Mermin (Cornell University) Univ. California, Berkeley, 2008. Non-mathematical popular lecture on YouTube, posted Mar 2008)