Space offers exciting opportunities to test the foundations of quantum physics using macroscopic quantum superpositions. It has been proposed to perform such tests in a dedicated space mission (MAQRO) using matter-wave interferometry with massive test particles or monitoring how the wave function of a test particle expands over time. Such experiments could test quantum physics with sufficiently high precision to resolve potential deviations from its unitary evolution due to gravitational decoherence. For example, such deviations have been predicted by the Diósi–Penrose (DP) model and the Károlyházy (K) model. The former predicts the collapse of massive or large superpositions due to a nonlinear modification of quantum evolution. The latter predicts decoherence because of an underlying uncertainty of space time. Potential advantages of a space environment are (1) long free-fall times, (2) low noise, and (3) taking a high number of data points over several years in a dedicated space mission. In contrast to interferometric tests, monitoring wave function expansion is less complex, but it does face some practical limitations. Here, we will discuss limitations of such non-interferometric experiments due to the limited number of data points achievable during a mission lifetime. Our results show that it will require an interferometric approach to conclusively test for gravitational decoherence as predicted by the DP or K models. In honor of the Nobel prize of Sir Roger Penrose, we will focus our discussion on the Diósi–Penrose model.
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Research Article| February 04 2022
Feasibility considerations for free-fall tests of gravitational decoherence
Special Collection: Celebrating Sir Roger Penrose's Nobel Prize
R. Kaltenbaek; Feasibility considerations for free-fall tests of gravitational decoherence. AVS Quantum Sci. 1 March 2022; 4 (1): 015604. https://doi.org/10.1116/5.0077400
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