“Quantum Information” is an attractive and informative introduction to cutting-edge quantum physics technology for high school and undergraduate students. The poster highlights ongoing research into the tiny building blocks of our universe.

What is Quantum Physics?

Quantum physics describes the world of the very small: atoms, electrons, light. The quantum world is strange. One example of this is illustrated by the picture at the top left of the poster: do you see 6 cubes, or 10? Just as your mind can interpret the image in two different ways, quantum systems can be in multiple states at once. This is called a superposition.

Look again: at any instant your mind picks a cube orientation, and the contradiction vanishes. Quantum superpositions are similarly fragile. Measurement, meaning an interaction with the outside world, causes a quantum system to “collapse” to one of its component states.

What is Quantum Information?

Most information is stored in relatively large structures--books, text messages, DNA, computers. Quantum information is information stored in very small structures called qubits. Qubits can be made from any quantum system that has two states. In the image in the poster, these states are depicted as electron orbits in an atom.

Because of the principle of superposition, qubits, unlike the “classical bits” in your computer, can be in both their possible states at once. This opens up exciting new possibilities in information technology.

What Can We Do with Quantum Information?

Scientists are using quantum physics to:

teleport information between particles separated in space.

encrypt messages so they cannot be intercepted without the snooper being detected.

build powerful new computers to quickly solve problems that take today's computer years. Examples include factoring the large numbers that are used to encrypt data, and searching through vast databases.

Want to Know More?

Joint Quantum Institute
The Joint Quantum Institute is a partnership between the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Maryland. It was created in 2006 to pursue theoretical and experimental studies of quantum physics in the context of information science and technology. More About JQI and Quantum Information

Poster Design and Credits

“Quantum Information” was designed jointly by APS and JQI.
Text and images: Emily Edwards, JQI
Editing: Gabriel Popkin, APS
Design: Emily Edwards, JQI and Nancy Bennett-Karasik, APS