BOULDER, Colo -- Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a pas de deux of atomic ions that combines the fine choreography of dance with precise individual control.
NIST's ion duet, described in the August 7 issue of Nature, is a component for a flexible quantum simulator that could be scaled up in size and configured to model quantum systems of a complexity that overwhelms traditional computer simulations. Beyond simulation, the duet might also be used to perform logic operations in future quantum computers, or as a quantum-enhanced precision measurement tool.
In the experiments, researchers coaxed two beryllium ions located in separate zones of an electric-field trap (a storage device) into an "entangled" state. An important resource for quantum technologies, entanglement involves an intimate connection between the particles such that a measurement of one ordains the state of the other. This is the first time ions in separate zones have been entangled by manipulating their electric interactions, an important feature that could be used in quantum simulation and computing.
The work demonstrates a high level of quantum control with microfabricated trap technology well suited to the scaling-up needed to make powerful quantum information processors. Having separate trapping zones enabled the research team to tune the ions' interactions from weak to stronga feature expected to be useful for simulating the behavior of complex quantum materials.
"Even though the ions are confined apart from one another, we can now entangle them," NIST physicist Andrew Wilson says. "We plan to use this for quantum simulation and computing, but when I explain to my family what we're doing, the remote entanglement sounds kind of romantic."
"We focus on the idea that everything needs to be scalable," Wilson notes. "To do useful simulations we'll need versatile traps with more than two io
|Contact: Laura Ost|
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)