A recent study conducted by scientists from the University of Rice and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the United States has revealed that ordinary chemical reactions have the ability to successfully prevent the loss of quantum information which is typically associated with mysterious black holes. This discovery challenges the notion that black holes are the most formidable destroyers of quantum information.

The researchers utilized a mathematical method developed over fifty years ago to describe quantum processes in superconductors, known as the Out-of-Time-Ordered Correlator (OTOC). This method helped them understand how quantum information is rapidly lost during chemical transformations at the molecular level.

The study found that quantum tunneling, the phenomenon where particles can penetrate potential barriers without enough energy to overcome them, plays a crucial role in this process. This results in unpredictable changes in quantum states, resembling a chaotic shuffle like in a card game.

Theoretical physicist Peter Vololinz from the University of Rice explains, “When we observe a chemical reaction between two molecules, it may seem like atoms are simply forming or breaking bonds. However, this classical view masks a much more intricate quantum reality.”

Researchers observed that tunneling is more likely to occur in confined groups of particles with low energy barriers, particularly at low temperatures. In such conditions, quantum information can be lost in just a fraction of picoseconds, comparable to the speed at which black holes operate.

However, in more complex environments such as solutions or biological systems, the tunneling process weakens. This is due to frequent collisions and interactions that inhibit quantum tunneling.

Chemist Martin Gruebel from the University of Illinois notes, “One can apply these concepts to more intricate processes where multiple quantum tunneling events occur. This is crucial for understanding phenomena like electronic conductivity in novel quantum materials, for instance, perovskites used in solar cells.”

Scientists anticipate that unraveling the mechanisms of quantum chaos in chemistry will aid engineers in manipulating tunneling, suppressing it in undesired situations while harnessing its benefits where applicable.

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