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Seminars and Colloquia


Quantum optics in different settings: optomechanics and possibly the brain? 
Thu, Jan 12, 2017,   11:00 AM at Physics Seminar Room 31, 2nd Floor, Main Building

Dr. Sourabh Kumar
University of Calgary, Canada

Abstract :  In this talk I shall discuss two quite different places where quantum optical phenomena might provide interesting fundamental insights:

Optomechanical micro-macro entanglement. Vigorous efforts are currently being undertaken to bring quantum effects such as superposition and entanglement to the macroscopic level. One prominent goal in this context is the creation of entanglement between a microscopic and a macroscopic system, following Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment that involved a decaying nucleus and a cat. A natural setting for testing these predictions is quantum optomechanics. In our work [1], we propose to create and detect optomechanical micro-macro entanglement, where the components of the superposition are macroscopically different, by storing one component of an entangled state of light in a mechanical resonator, and then retrieving it.

Possible existence of optical communication channels in the brain.  While neuroscience has made great strides, many fundamental questions are still unanswered. It therefore seems pertinent to explore whether the brain might generate, transmit and store information using other physical modalities than the ones that have been discovered so far. We ask the question whether biophotons observed in the brain could serve as signals between neurons, in addition to the well-known electro-chemical signals.  We show, based on detailed theoretical modeling, that myelinated axons could serve as photonic waveguides even in the presence of realistic optical imperfections [2]. We propose experiments, both in vivo and in vitro, to test our hypothesis. We discuss the implications of our results, including the question whether photons could mediate long-range quantum entanglement in the brain.

[1] Ghobadi, R., Kumar, S. Pepper, B., Bouwmeester, D., Lvovsky, A. I. & Simon, C. Optomechanical micro-macro entanglement. Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 080503 (2014).
[2] Kumar, S., Boone, K., Tuszynski, J., Barclay, P. & Simon, C. Possible existence of optical communication channels in the brain. Sci. Rep. 6, 36508 (2016).