In the southeastern Chinese city of Hefei, a team of researchers led by physicist Pan Jianwei has built a new device with potential use in a battlefield.
Pan’s device is the most sensitive light source on Earth. It can produce a single photon, or a particle of light with the spooky behaviour of quantum physics, and these photons can be used to enable ultra-secure communication, detect unknown microorganisms or reveal a submarine lurking hundred of metres deep in the ocean.
Marlan Scully, a physicist in the United States, has participated in this project, according to their co-authored paper, published in journal Physical Review Letters earlier this month.
Despite the fights and bites between their countries’ governments, scientists in China and the US continue to join forces in research, including for uses that could raise an eyebrow or two.
Some researchers with a Chinese ethnic background have been sacked or investigated, while Donald Trump’s administration has taken numerous actions such as cutting funds and revoking student visas to scale back academic exchange between the two countries.
But not all officials in the US government agreed with the anti-Chinese sentiment coming from the top, according to a science and technology policy researcher at Tsinghua University who has followed the recent trends.
These officials, some in the military or intelligence community, believed engaging with China in various forms of research collaboration would bring more benefit than harm to the US, the researcher said.