In a recent study published in Physical Review Letters, a research team led by academician Guo Guangcan, Prof. Li Chuanfeng, and Prof. Liu Biheng from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) and Prof. Giulio Chiribella from the University of Hong Kong, has made significant progress in constructing a coherent superposition of quantum evolution with two opposite directions in a photonic system. This breakthrough not only challenges the conventional notion of time flowing from the past to the future but also demonstrates the advantages of characterizing input-output indefiniteness in quantum systems.

The concept of time reversal symmetry in quantum mechanics has long been a subject of great interest due to its potential applications in multi-time quantum states, simulations of closed timelike curves, and inversion of unknown quantum evolutions. However, the experimental realization of time reversal has posed a significant challenge for researchers in the field. To address this issue, the team at USTC and the University of Hong Kong devised a method to extend time reversal to the input-output inversion of a quantum device in a photonic setup.

By exchanging the input and output ports of a quantum device, the researchers were able to create a time-reversal simulator for quantum evolution, effectively quantizing the evolution time direction. This groundbreaking approach allowed them to achieve a coherent superposition of quantum evolution and its inverse, providing new insights into the reversible nature of quantum processes. The team also utilized quantum witness techniques to characterize the structures resulting from this quantized time direction, revealing the potential for quantum channel identification.

The study demonstrated that the quantization of the time direction in quantum evolution processes offers significant advantages in quantum channel identification. Using the developed device, the researchers were able to distinguish between two sets of quantum channels with an impressive 99.6% success rate. In comparison, a strategy based on a definite time direction only achieved a maximum success rate of 89% with the same resource consumption. This highlights the importance of input-output indefiniteness as a valuable resource for advancements in quantum information and photonic quantum technologies.

Overall, the research conducted by the team at USTC and the University of Hong Kong represents a major step forward in the field of quantum information science. By exploring the advantages of coherent superposition of quantum evolution in photonic systems, the study sheds light on the reversible nature of quantum processes and opens up new possibilities for quantum channel identification and quantum technology advancements.


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