# What does delayed choice entanglement swapping require?

• I
• StevieTNZ
In summary: Victor at the same time.In summary, the entanglement swapping between systems 1 and 4 is due to the fact that they were both measured by Victor at the same time.
StevieTNZ
A follow-up question from a previous thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...-of-a-quantum-operation-called-a-bsm.1047772/.

So my point of view is this: there are systems 1-4 (which refer to photons 1-4 in https://www.nature.com/articles/nphys2294)

There is entanglement between systems 1 and 2 (Alice) and systems 3 and 4 (Bob). Systems 2 and 3 get sent to Victor for a BSM to occur, projecting systems 1 and 4 into an entangled state. However, in the delayed choice experiment, measurement occurs on systems 1 and 4 before the other two systems are projected into a bell-state.

My question is: wouldn't entanglement need to exist between systems 1 and 2 (likewise systems 3 and 4) in order for it be swapped? If a measurement occurs on system 1 and 4 and physical collapse occurs, entanglement is broken and there is essentially nothing to swap. So in light of what the experimental results how, what can we say about physical collapse if entanglement is indeed shown between systems 1 and 4?

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DrChinese, physika and vanhees71
Moderator's note: A slight edit has been made to the OP.

StevieTNZ said:
wouldn't entanglement need to exist between systems 1 and 2 (likewise systems 3 and 4) in order for it be swapped?
Both the predictions of the basic math of QM and the experimental results show that the entanglement between systems 1 and 4, as shown by the statistics of measurements on them, can be controlled by an interaction between systems 2 and 3, regardless of the spacetime relationship between all of the measurements. So whatever is going on, it apparently can go on even if the measurements of systems 1 and 4 are in the past light cone of the interaction between systems 2 and 3. That is just the experimental fact.

What stories can validly be told to "explain" this experimental fact will depend on which interpretation of QM you want to use. The "entanglement swapping" story appears, at least to its proponents, to be consistent with an fairly "realist" interpretation of the quantum state; but such an interpretation is also what one might call "acausal", in that it does not require any kind of "normal" cause and effect relationship between the interaction between systems 2 and 3, which one might think would "cause" the swapping, and the measurement results for systems 1 and 4, which one might think would be "effects" of the swapping.

StevieTNZ said:
If a measurement occurs on system 1 and 4 and physical collapse occurs, entanglement is broken
Only in some interpretations, not all.

StevieTNZ said:
in light of what the experimental results show, what can we say about physical collapse if entanglement is indeed shown between systems 1 and 4?
I think any claims along these lines would also have to be interpretation dependent.

I don't think there has been a lot of time for proponents of the various QM interpretations to digest these types of experiments, so there might not be much to go on in the literature.

DrChinese, gentzen and berkeman
StevieTNZ said:
A follow-up question from a previous thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...-of-a-quantum-operation-called-a-bsm.1047772/.

So my point of view is this: there are systems 1-4 (which refer to photons 1-4 in https://www.nature.com/articles/nphys2294)

There is entanglement between systems 1 and 2 (Alice) and systems 3 and 4 (Bob). Systems 2 and 3 get sent to Victor for a BSM to occur, projecting systems 1 and 4 into an entangled state. However, in the delayed choice experiment, measurement occurs on systems 1 and 4 before the other two systems are projected into a bell-state.

My question is: wouldn't entanglement need to exist between systems 1 and 2 (likewise systems 3 and 4) in order for it be swapped? If a measurement occurs on system 1 and 4 and physical collapse occurs, entanglement is broken and there is essentially nothing to swap. So in light of what the experimental results how, what can we say about physical collapse if entanglement is indeed shown between systems 1 and 4?
Indeed, the entanglement swapping only works if you have an entanglement between 1&2 (Alice) and 3&4 (Bob). You can think of realized these as two entangled photon pairs (all together a four-photon state). As an example take the state
$$|\Psi \rangle = \frac{1}{2} [\hat{a}^{\dagger}(\vec{p}_1,+1) \hat{a}^{\dagger}(\vec{p}_2,-1)-\hat{a}^{\dagger}(\vec{p}_1,-1) \hat{a}^{\dagger}(\vec{p}_2,+1)][\hat{a}^{\dagger}(\vec{p}_3,+1) \hat{a}^{\dagger}(\vec{p}_4,-1)-\hat{a}^{\dagger}(\vec{p}_3,-1) \hat{a}^{\dagger}(\vec{p}_4,+1)]|\Omega \rangle.$$
If you then use the photons with momenta ##\vec{p}_2## and ##\vec{p}_3## (at V's place) to make a Bell measurement and measure only photons with momenta ##\vec{p}_1## and ##\vec{p}_4## where V got one out of four possible Bells states, you'll see that this subensemble is described by a Bell state for photone ##\vec{p}_1## and ##\vec{p}_4##.

It doesn't matter when you do this choice. You can use a measurement protocol for all 4 photons and post-select each of the four possible projections to Bell states of V's photons.

I think the only consistent interpretation, given the microcausality property of QED and the success in using QED to predict the outcome of this experiment, is that indeed the cause of the correlation between photon 1 and 4 in each of the sub-ensemble is due to the preparation of the four-photon state in the state ##|\Psi \rangle## given above.

A real experiment of this kind is given here:

https://arxiv.org/abs/0809.3991
https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevA.79.040302

PeterDonis said:
1. What stories can validly be told to "explain" this experimental fact will depend on which interpretation of QM you want to use. The "entanglement swapping" story appears, at least to its proponents, to be consistent with an fairly "realist" interpretation of the quantum state; but such an interpretation is also what one might call "acausal", in that it does not require any kind of "normal" cause and effect relationship between the interaction between systems 2 and 3, which one might think would "cause" the swapping, and the measurement results for systems 1 and 4, which one might think would be "effects" of the swapping.
StevieTNZ said:
2. My question is: wouldn't entanglement need to exist between systems 1 and 2 (likewise systems 3 and 4) in order for it be swapped? If a measurement occurs on system 1 and 4 and physical collapse occurs, entanglement is broken and there is essentially nothing to swap. So in light of what the experimental results how, what can we say about physical collapse if entanglement is indeed shown between systems 1 and 4?

1. Very concise, accurate summary. Yes, this is an acausal interpretation corresponding to viewing the quantum state as "real" (whatever that might mean, obviously not the "real" as in local "realistic" theories).

2. Yes, as already answered, there must be 2 entangled pairs as sources (1 & 2, and 3 & 4).

The problem comes in determining whether a) collapse is physical; and b) if it IS physical, when does it occur? I am going to say: Yes, collapse is physical. (You might expect me to say that, since I also say that entanglement swapping is physical.)

When does it occur? Referencing what PeterDonis said in 1.: such quantum physical processes are acausal and do not follow normal cause and effect rules. The following sequences are equivalent in terms of quantum physical processes:

a. First Victor measures 2 & 3 (the BSM), then Alice measures 1, lastly Bob measures 4.
b. First Alice measures 1, then Victor measures 2 & 3 (the BSM), lastly Bob measures 4.
c. First Alice measures 1, then Bob measures 4, lastly Victor measures 2 & 3 (the BSM).

In addition: 1 can be measured before 3 & 4 come into existence. The Bell test results will be the same in each scenario, indicating successful entanglement swaps.

Our conclusion must be that the collapse does not occur in all places in space at a single point in time. When 1 collapses, that does not cause 2 to collapse at the same "time". I don't know when the collapse occurs, no one does really, because you can't see that operation has occurred until there is a measurement. Only by looking at the total quantum context (measurements on 1, 2, 3, 4) can you make any statements. And when you do, they will not indicate physical action occurred in a past-to-future order.

My preferred mental visual is:
a) draw the full quantum context in spacetime;
b) the full context will always have connections limited by c (although causal direction is ambiguous);
c) apply a random element (perhaps more than one) to the overall context that makes the entire context statistically consistent with quantum predictions.

The ONLY way you get to that (quantum events occur only in past to future order) is by assumption. And in recent experiments, it is becoming clearer and clearer that QM interpretations with that assumption are not looking so good these days...

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Alex Torres
vanhees71 said:
I think the only consistent interpretation, given the microcausality property of QED and the success in using QED to predict the outcome of this experiment, is that indeed the cause of the correlation between photon 1 and 4 in each of the sub-ensemble is due to the preparation of the four-photon state in the state ##|\Psi \rangle## given above.
But that preparation, by itself, does not lead to any entanglement between photons 1 and 4. If you just do the preparation, but don't do anything to photons 2 and 3 (no BSM or any other measurement that can project those two photons into an entangled state), then photons 1 and 4 are not correlated at all, and measurements on them will show that. Only if you do make a measurement on photons 2 and 3 that can project them into an entangled state, will you see any correlation between photons 1 and 4. So it doesn't seem like the preparation, by itself, can be the cause of any correlation between photons 1 and 4.

vanhees71 and DrChinese
I think, in principle, there is no contradiction between our views. Indeed the preparation alone doesn't entangle photons 1 and 4. To the contrary, it's made precisely such that photons 1 and 4 are not entangled. The important point to understand is that even when doing the measurements on photons 2 and 3 nothing happens to the full ensemble of photons 1 and 4 but that when choosing each of the four subensembles you prepare a specific entangled state of photons 1 and 4 without a causal interaction with either of these photons. This possibility of entanglement swapping is due to the preparation of the 4 photons in the original state, i.e., photons 1 and 2 as well as photons 3 and 4 in a Bell state, but these two pair states in a product state. The point is that, if you accept the validity of the microcausality constraint of relativistic QFT, then there can be no causal effect of the measurement on photons 2 and 3 on the photons 1 and 4. It just enables the (post-)selection of specific subensembles for which photons 1 and 4 are entangled.

I don't see, whether we still disagree or not and if so, about which detail.

Nullstein
vanhees71 said:
even when doing the measurements on photons 2 and 3 nothing happens to the full ensemble of photons 1 and 4
This is not correct. Doing the BSM does change the overall statistics for photons 1 and 4. It has to, because if you don't do the measurement, no pairs of photons 1 and 4 are entangled, but if you do the measurement, some pairs of photons 1 and 4 are entangled. So the overall statistics on photons 1 and 4 change from being all "not entangled" to a mixture of "not entangled" and "entangled".

DrChinese
vanhees71 said:
when choosing each of the four subensembles you prepare a specific entangled state of photons 1 and 4
There aren't four subensembles; there are only two, the "entangled" and "not entangled" subensembles. The BSM on photons 2 and 3 only has two possible results: either "event ready", meaning a Bell state was produced and photons 1 and 4 are entangled, or "not", meaning no Bell state was produced and photons 1 and 4 are not entangled.

The full ensemble of photons 1&4 is always that of uncorrelated photons. Only the subensembles when projecting 2&3 to one of the Bell states for the 2&3 pair are also Bell states. Quantum states don't depend on which basis is used to express them. It's very simple to see in this paper (Eqs. 2 and 3):

https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.80.3891

martinbn and Nullstein
vanhees71 said:
It's very simple to see in this paper (Eqs. 2 and 3):

https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.80.3891
This paper describes a different experiment from the one in the reference given in the OP. In the experiment described in the paper in the quote above, there are four possible Bell states. In the experiment referenced in the OP, there is only one.

vanhees71 said:
1. Indeed the preparation alone doesn't entangle photons 1 and 4. To the contrary, it's made precisely such that photons 1 and 4 are not entangled. The important point to understand is that even when doing the measurements on photons 2 and 3 nothing happens to the full ensemble of photons 1 and 4 but that when choosing each of the four subensembles you prepare a specific entangled state of photons 1 and 4 without a causal interaction with either of these photons. This possibility of entanglement swapping is due to the preparation of the 4 photons in the original state, i.e., photons 1 and 2 as well as photons 3 and 4 in a Bell state, but these two pair states in a product state.

2. The point is that, if you accept the validity of the microcausality constraint of relativistic QFT, then there can be no causal effect of the measurement on photons 2 and 3 on the photons 1 and 4. It just enables the (post-)selection of specific subensembles for which photons 1 and 4 are entangled.

3. I don't see, whether we still disagree or not and if so, about which detail.
1. All of this is correct, and I agree. Preparation alone does not entangle 1 & 4. When a successful swap operation is executed (one of the 4 Bell states), "you prepare a specific entangled state of photons 1 and 4 without a causal interaction with either of these photons." Couldn't have said it better myself. 2. This basically states the exact opposite of 1, so of course I disagree.

There is no "(post-)selection of specific subensembles for which photons 1 and 4 are entangled." No subensembles of 1 & 4 are ever entangled UNLESS the swap occurs. You know this because of monogamy of entanglement (and hopefully I don't need to convince you about that). If a successful the swap occurs, 1's monogamous entanglement with 2 ceases and its monogamous entanglement with 4 begins.

In sum: If you don't perform any swapping at all, there is no sub-ensemble of 1 & 4 pairs that are ever entangled. (And again, hopefully I don't need to convince you about that.)

Also: Your use of the word "causal" in this section is ambiguous. Since quantum nonlocality defies Einsteinian causality, it is not a valid descriptor for the swapping action. Time ordering of events within a full quantum context is not a factor in any case. 3. I split the sections up as requested.

Alex Torres
I don't know, how else I can reformulate 2) to make clear what I mean, but I hope you agree that this experiment is described correctly by standard QED. Then there cannot be a causal connection between the measurement on 2+3 on 1 and/or 4. It also doesn't matter, whether the measurement on 2+3 occurs before or after the measurement on 1+4 nor if these measurement events are spacelike separated.

That's why I don't see a contradiction between 1) and 2) let alone any contradiction of this experiment with standard microcausal QED.

Nullstein
But 1+4 are not entangled by preparation. I don't know whether in this or the other thread I gave the very simple proof that the corresponding partial trace over photons 2+3 lead to a product state for 1+4. Only by projecting 2+3 to one of the four Bell states you prepare a Bell state of 1+4.

DrChinese

## 1. What is delayed choice entanglement swapping?

Delayed choice entanglement swapping is a phenomenon in quantum mechanics where the entanglement between two particles can be "swapped" even after the particles have been separated and their states measured. This means that the measurement of one particle's state can affect the state of the other particle, even if the two were not in direct contact at the time of measurement.

## 2. How does delayed choice entanglement swapping work?

Delayed choice entanglement swapping works by utilizing the concept of quantum superposition, where particles can exist in multiple states simultaneously. When two particles are entangled, their states are linked and measuring one particle's state will affect the other particle's state. In delayed choice entanglement swapping, the measurement of one particle's state is delayed until after the two particles have been separated. This delay allows for the possibility of the other particle's state being changed, resulting in the "swapping" of entanglement.

## 3. What is the significance of delayed choice entanglement swapping?

Delayed choice entanglement swapping has significant implications for our understanding of quantum mechanics and the nature of reality. It challenges the idea that events in the past cannot be changed, as the measurement of one particle's state can retroactively affect the state of another particle. This phenomenon also has potential applications in quantum computing and communication.

## 4. Is delayed choice entanglement swapping a proven phenomenon?

Yes, delayed choice entanglement swapping has been demonstrated in various experiments in quantum mechanics. One of the most famous experiments is the "quantum eraser" experiment, which showed that the measurement of one particle's state can change the outcome of another particle's state, even after the two particles have been separated.

## 5. What are the current challenges and limitations of delayed choice entanglement swapping?

One of the main challenges of delayed choice entanglement swapping is controlling and maintaining the delicate state of entangled particles. Any external interference or measurement can disrupt the entanglement and affect the outcome of the experiment. Additionally, the phenomenon is still not fully understood and further research is needed to fully harness its potential applications.

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