Can different quantum state vectors correspond to the same physical state? An experimental test
Daniel Nigg‚ Thomas Monz‚ Philipp Schindler‚ Esteban A Martinez‚ Michael Chwalla‚ Markus Hennrich‚ Rainer Blatt‚ Matthew F Pusey‚ Terry Rudolph and Jonathan Barrett
A century on from the development of quantum theory, the interpretation of a quantum state is still discussed. If a physicist claims to have produced a system with a particular wave function, does this represent directly a physical wave of some kind, or is the wave function merely a summary of knowledge, or information, about the system? A recent no-go theorem shows that models in which the wave function is not physical, but corresponds only to an experimenter's information about a hypothetical real state of the system, must make different predictions from quantum theory when a certain test is carried out. Here we report on an experimental implementation using trapped ions. Within experimental error, the results confirm quantum theory. We analyse which kinds of theories are ruled out.