Scientists have photographed a phenomenon which Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance” for the first time.
The image is of a strong form of quantum entanglement, where two particles interact with each other and share their physical states for an instant.
It happens no matter how great the distance between the two particles.
The connection is known as Bell entanglement and underpins the field of quantum mechanics.
Paul-Antoine Moreau, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “The image we’ve managed to capture is an elegant demonstration of a fundamental property of nature, seen for the very first time in the form of an image.
“It’s an exciting result which could be used to advance the emerging field of quantum computing and lead to new types of imaging.”
Einstein thought quantum mechanics was “spooky” because of the instantaneousness of the apparent remote interaction between the two particles in the entanglement.
It seemed incompatible with parts of his theory of special relativity.
Scientist Sir John Ball later formalised this concept by describing a strong form of entanglement exhibiting this feature.
Bell entanglement is harnessed today in practical applications like quantum computing and cryptography.
But this is the first time it has been captured in a single picture.
The team from the University of Glasgow said they devised a system which fires a stream of entangled photons from a quantum source of light at “non-conventional” objects – displayed on liquid-crystal materials which change the phase of the photons as they pass through – to get the image.