While probing how quantum annealers perform when operated faster than desired, a team of scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory unexpectedly discovered a new effect that may account for the imbalanced distribution of matter and antimatter in the universe and a novel approach to separating isotopes.
Significantly, this finding hints at how at least two famous scientific problems may be resolved in the future. The first one is the apparent asymmetry between matter and antimatter in the universe.
Both matter and antimatter resulted from the energy excitations that were produced at the birth of the universe. The symmetry between how matter and antimatter interact was broken but very weakly. It is still not completely clear how this subtle difference could lead to the large observed domination of matter compared to antimatter at the cosmological scale.
The newly discovered effect demonstrates that such an asymmetry is physically possible. It happens when a large quantum system passes through a phase transition, that is, a very sharp rearrangement of quantum state. In such circumstances, strong but symmetric interactions roughly compensate each other. (Phys.org)
The paper has been published in Physical Review Letters.