A dynamical quantum Cheshire Cat effect and implications for counterfactual communication

Yakir Aharonov, Eliahu Cohen, Sandu Popescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Here we report a type of dynamic effect that is at the core of the so called “counterfactual computation” and especially “counterfactual communication” quantum effects that have generated a lot of interest recently. The basic feature of these counterfactual setups is the fact that particles seem to be affected by actions that take place in locations where they never (more precisely, only with infinitesimally small probability) enter. Specifically, the communication/computation takes place without the quantum particles that are supposed to be the information carriers travelling through the communication channel or entering the logic gates of the computer. Here we show that something far more subtle is taking place: It is not necessary for the particle to enter the region where the controlling action takes place; it is enough for the controlled property of the particle, (i.e., the property that is being controlled by actions in the control region), to enter that region. The presence of the controlled property, without the particle itself, is possible via a quantum Cheshire Cat type effect in which a property can be disembodied from the particle that possesses it. At the same time, we generalize the quantum Cheshire Cat effect to dynamical settings, in which the property that is “disembodied” from the particle possessing it propagates in space, and leads to a flux of “disembodied” conserved quantities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4770
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021

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