They have experimentally demonstrated quantum antennae, which enable the exchange of quantum information between two separate memory cells located on a computer chip. This offers new opportunities to build practical quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the scientific journal Nature.
Atomic antennae enable the exchange of quantum information between two separate memory cells located on a computer chip. Graphics: Harald Ritsch
Six years ago scientists at the University of Innsbruck realized the first quantum byte – a quantum computer with eight entangled quantum particles; a record that still stands. “Nevertheless, to make practical use of a quantum computer that performs calculations, we need a lot more quantum bits,” says Prof. Rainer Blatt, who, with his research team at the Institute for Experimental Physics, created the first quantum byte in an electromagnetic ion trap. “In these traps we cannot string together large numbers of ions and control them simultaneously." To solve this problem, the scientists have started to design a quantum computer based on a system of many small registers, which have to be linked.
To achieve this, Innsbruck quantum physicists have now developed a revolutionary approach based on a concept formulated by theoretical physicists Ignacio Cirac and Peter Zoller. In their experiment, the physicists electromagnetically coupled two groups of ions over a distance of about 50 micrometers. Here, the motion of the particles serves as an antenna. “The particles oscillate like electrons in the poles of a TV antenna and thereby generate an electromagnetic field,” explains Blatt. “If one antenna is tuned to the other one, the receiving end picks up the signal of the sender, which results in coupling.” The energy exchange taking place in this process could be the basis for fundamental computing operations of a quantum computer.
The quantum researchers are supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, the European Union, the European Research Council and the Federation of Austrian Industries Tyrol.Publication: Trapped-ion antennae for the transmission of quantum information. Maximilian Harlander, Regina Lechner, Michael Brownnutt, Rainer Blatt, Wolfgang Hänsel. Nature Advance Online Publication 23 February 2011
Contact:Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rainer Blatt
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