Glasgow & West Scotland

First image of Einstein's 'spooky' particle entanglement

Quantum entanglement Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The photo shows a strong form of quantum entanglement

Scientists have captured the first ever image of a phenomenon which Albert Einstein once described as "spooky action at a distance".

The photo shows a strong form of quantum entanglement, where two particles interact and share their physical states for an instant.

It occurs no matter how great the distance between the particles is.

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 was "an elegant demonstration of a fundamental property of nature".

He added: "It's an exciting result which could be used to advance the emerging field of quantum computing and lead to new types of imaging."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The entanglement seemed incompatible with elements of Einstein's special theory of relativity

Einstein described quantum mechanics as "spooky" because of the instantaneousness of the apparent remote interaction between two entangled particles.

The interaction also seemed incompatible with elements of his special theory of relativity.

Scientist John Bell later formalised the concept by describing in detail a strong form of entanglement exhibiting the feature.

Bell entanglement is now harnessed in practical applications such as quantum computing and cryptography.

However, it has never before been captured in a single image.

The team of physicists from the University of Glasgow devised a system that fired a stream of entangled photons from a quantum source of light at "non-conventional" objects.

This was displayed on liquid-crystal materials which change the phase of the photons as they pass through.