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Can different quantum state vectors correspond to the same physical state? An experimental test

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  • Daniel Nigg
  • Thomas Monz
  • Philipp Schindler
  • Esteban A. Martinez
  • Markus Hennrich
  • Rainer Blatt
  • Matthew F. Pusey
  • Terry Rudolph
  • Jonathan Barrett


Publication details

JournalNew Journal of Physics
DateAccepted/In press - 7 Dec 2015
DatePublished (current) - 23 Dec 2015
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Original languageEnglish


A century after the development of quantum theory, the interpretation of a quantum state is still discussed. If a physicist claims to have produced a system with a particular quantum state vector, does this represent directly a physical property of the system, or is the state vector merely a summary of the physicist's information about the system? Assume that a state vector corresponds to a probability distribution over possible values of an unknown physical or 'ontic' state. Then, a recent no-go theorem shows that distinct state vectors with overlapping distributions lead to predictions different from quantum theory. We report an experimental test of these predictions using trapped ions. Within experimental error, the results confirm quantum theory. We analyse which kinds of models are ruled out.

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© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.

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