Quantum mechanics is one of the pillars of modern physics, however rather difficult to teach at the introductory level due to the conceptual difficulties and the required advanced mathematics. Nevertheless, attempts to identify relevant features of quantum mechanics and to put forward concepts of how to teach it have been proposed.1–8 Here we present an approach to quantum physics based on the simplest quantum mechanical system—the quantum bit (qubit).1 Like its classical counterpart—the bit—a qubit corresponds to a two-level system, i.e., some system with a physical property that can admit two possible values. While typically a physical system has more than just one property or the property can admit more than just two values, in many situations most degrees of freedom can be considered to be fixed or frozen. Hence a variety of systems can be effectively described as a qubit. For instance, one may consider the spin of an electron or atom, with spin up and spin down as two possible values, and where other properties of the particle such as its mass or its position are fixed. Further examples include the polarization degree of freedom of a photon (horizontal and vertical polarization), two electronic degrees of freedom (i.e., two energy levels) of an atom, or the position of an atom in a double well potential (atom in left or right well). In all cases, only two states are relevant to describe the system.
Skip Nav Destination
PAPERS| November 01 2014
Visualization of the Invisible: The Qubit as Key to Quantum Physics
Phys. Teach. 52, 489–492 (2014)
Wolfgang Dür, Stefan Heusler; Visualization of the Invisible: The Qubit as Key to Quantum Physics. Phys. Teach. 1 November 2014; 52 (8): 489–492. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4897588
Download citation file: