Universal decoherence due to gravitational time dilation

Author(s): I. Pikovski, M. Zych, F. M. Costa, Č. Brukner

Journal: Nature Physics

Volume: 11

Page(s): 668–672

Year: 2015

DOI Number: 10.1038/nphys3366

Link: Link to publication


The physics of low-energy quantum systems is usually studied without explicit consideration of the background spacetime. Phenomena inherent to quantum theory in curved spacetime, such as Hawking radiation, are typically assumed to be relevant only for extreme physical conditions: at high energies and in strong gravitational fields. Here we consider low-energy quantum mechanics in the presence of gravitational time dilation and show that the latter leads to the decoherence of quantum superpositions. Time dilation induces a universal coupling between the internal degrees of freedom and the centre of mass of a composite particle. The resulting correlations lead to decoherence in the particle position, even without any external environment. We also show that the weak time dilation on Earth is already sufficient to affect micrometre-scale objects. Gravity can therefore account for the emergence of classicality and this effect could in principle be tested in future matter-wave experiments.

Note: http://arxiv.org/abs/1311.1095

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