Foundations of Physics

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 681–700 | Cite as

A model of quantum measurement in Josephson junctions

  • Roger A. Hegstrom
  • Fernando Sols


A model for the quantum measurement of the electronic current in a Josephson junction is presented and analyzed. The model is similar to a Stern-Gerlach apparatus, relying on the deflection of a spin-polarized particle beam by the magnetic field created by the Josephson current. The aim is (1) to explore, with the help of a simple model, some general ideas about the nature of the information which can be obtained by measurements upon a quantum system and (2) to find new approaches for obtaining information about the nature of the states of a macroscopic quantum system. In the case of sufficiently strong coupling between the system and the apparatus, we find that the model provides in principle a standard ideal measurement of the value of the instantaneous Josephson current. In the case of weak coupling, where the measurement is not ideal, we show that the scattering of neutrons from a junction can in principle be used to measure the average value of the Josephson current, thereby allowing an experimental distinction to be made between an eigenstate of relative phase and one of relative Cooper pair number. The possibility of the latter type of measurement suggests an experimental approach to answer a question of fundamental interest, namely whether two isolated superconductors (or superfluids) possess a definite relative phase or a definite relative number of superconducting (or super/lowing) particles.


Quantum System Strong Coupling Relative Phase Weak Coupling Relative Number 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger A. Hegstrom
    • 1
  • Fernando Sols
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryWake Forest UniversityWinston-Salem
  2. 2.Departamento de Física de la Materia Condensada, C-XIIUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain

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