Renninger’s Gedankenexperiment, the collapse of the wave function in a rigid quantum metamaterial and the reality of the quantum state vector. Scientific Reports, 8, Article number: 9608.
A popular interpretation of the “collapse” of the wave function is as being the result of a local interaction (“measurement”) of the quantum system with a macroscopic system (“detector”), with the ensuing loss of phase coherence between macroscopically distinct components of its quantum state vector. Nevetheless as early as in 1953 Renninger suggested a Gedankenexperiment, in which the collapse is triggered by non-observation of one of two mutually exclusive outcomes of the measurement, i.e., in the absence of interaction of the quantum system with the detector. This provided a powerful argument in favour of “physical reality” of (nonlocal) quantum state vector. In this paper we consider a possible version of Renninger’s experiment using the light propagation through a birefringent quantum metamaterial. Its realization would provide a clear visualization of a wave function collapse produced by a “non-measurement”, and make the concept of a physically real quantum state vector more acceptable.
This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Nature Publishing Group under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
AZ was supported in part by the EPSRC grant EP/M006581/1 and by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation in the framework of Increase Competitiveness Program of NUST MISiS (No. K2-2016-067).