Entanglement between Identical Particles Is a Useful and Consistent Resource

Abstract

The existence of fundamentally identical particles represents a foundational distinction between classical and quantum mechanics. Due to their exchange symmetry, identical particles can appear to be entangled - another uniquely quantum phenomenon with far-reaching practical implications. However, a long-standing debate has questioned whether identical particle entanglement is physical or merely a mathematical artefact. In this work, we provide such particle entanglement with a consistent theoretical description as a quantum resource in processes frequently encountered in optical and cold atomic systems. This leads to a plethora of applications of immediate practical impact. On one hand, we show that the metrological advantage for estimating phase shifts in systems of identical bosons amounts to a measure of their particle entanglement, with a clearcut operational meaning. On the other hand, we demonstrate in general terms that particle entanglement is the property resulting in directly usable mode entanglement when distributed to separated parties, with particle conservation laws in play. Application of our tools to an experimental implementation with Bose-Einstein condensates leads to the first quantitative estimation of identical particle entanglement. Further connections are revealed between particle entanglement and other resources such as optical nonclassicality and quantum coherence. Overall, this work marks a resolutive step in the ongoing debate by delivering a unifying conceptual and practical understanding of entanglement between identical particles

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