What process needs to be done on molecules to put them in a state of superposition in laboratory experiments?

I understand that it involves working with systems cooled down to very low temperatures. And one of the steps is getting the object to its ground state. But what specific operation places an object into superposition?

Also, how is it determined that an object has been placed in superposition, if it could not be measured, since measuring would collapse the superposition?

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    $\begingroup$ Do you know about Rabi oscillations? $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2020 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ I have now read about them from here. The relevant part there might be 'If light interacts with a two-level system, this can lead to a periodic exchange of energy between the light field and the two-level system.' Is placing objects in superposition the same as having such a periodic exchange of energy? Or there are further steps along this? $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2021 at 18:44

1 Answer 1


I’m not an expert in biophysics and have never worked with molecules but I’ll try to answer your question in terms of experiments with electrons and photons.

On the one hand, there are many physical processes in nature by means of which one can generate superposition states given some initial state prior to such processes to which one can initiate the system. For example, assuming you are able to prepare a single electron in a spin up state in the z-basis, you can turn the state in a superposition of spin up and spin down in the same basis by means of a Stern-Gerlach apparatus performing a projective measurement of the spin in the x- or y-basis.

On the other hand, superposition can easily be revealed by means of interference experiments. The easiest example is the double slit experiment.


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