Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


GTRI researchers design and test microfabricated planar ion traps

Despite a steady improvement in the speed of conventional computers during the last few decades, certain types of problems remain computationally difficult to solve.

Quantum computers hold the promise of offering a new route to solving some classes of these problems, such as breaking encryptions. The tremendous computing power of these devices stems from their use of quantum systems, called "qubits," which can exist in a "superposition" of two states at the same time – in stark contrast to the transistors in conventional computers that can only be in the state "0" or "1".

"Though a practical quantum computer may still be decades away, research being conducted today is laying the groundwork for such a device by bridging the vast gap between the theory and practice of quantum information processing," said Dick Slusher, a principal research scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and director of the Georgia Tech Quantum Institute.

One path toward creating quantum computers is to use trapped ions as the qubits. However, it is currently difficult to scale up conventional ion traps into an array large enough to create a useful quantum computer.

At GTRI, researchers are designing, fabricating and testing planar ion traps that can be more readily combined into large, interconnected trap arrays. Details of the research effort, led by Slusher and GTRI senior research scientist Alexa Harter, were presented at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics on May 26 and 27.

The presentations were made by GTRI postdoctoral fellow Charlie Doret, GTRI research scientist Arkadas Ozakin and Georgia Tech electrical and computer engineering graduate student Fayaz Shaikh. This research is funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through contracts with the Army Research Office.

GTRI's microfabricated planar ion traps employ a combination of radio-frequency signals and static voltages applied to aluminum electrodes that are layered on silicon wafers.

"These planar trap geometries are advantageous because they are scalable to large systems of ions and also offer improved laser access compared to currently available traps," said Doret.

Lasers are applied to the ions to induce "entanglement" – a quantum mechanical property whereby the states involved cannot be completely described independently. Using systems of trapped ions, researchers have measured entanglement clearly and can preserve it for extended periods of time. To date, however, the largest number of entangled particles ever achieved in a quantum computer is eight calcium ions. At least thirty ions are required to perform calculations that cannot be realized on a classical computer, so a major challenge for the future is to increase the number of trapped ions that can interact.

The GTRI team has used state-of-the-art computer simulations of the electromagnetic trapping fields and the trapped ion motion to design versatile traps capable of holding many ions. Trap designs were improved using genetic algorithms that fed back to the shapes and spacing of trap electrodes to optimize trap depth and minimize heating when ions were transported between trapping zones.

Prototypes of the designs were fabricated with the help of Kevin Martin, a principal research scientist in the Georgia Tech Nanotechnology Research Center. The research team then tested the prototypes in GTRI's ion trapping laboratory, where calcium ions were first trapped in October 2009 using devices designed and fabricated at Georgia Tech.

Experimental data on trap loading efficiency, ion lifetime and ion shuttling efficiency were used to validate the designs and provide feedback for additional improvements.

The GTRI team is working with researchers at Duke University to integrate optics directly into the ion traps, while researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are testing the devices in a cryogenic environment.

In collaboration with the University of Maryland, GTRI researchers are also investigating the use of an array of trapped ions and/or ultra-cold atoms trapped in optical lattices for applications in quantum simulation.

"We still have much to learn about individual quantum systems, how to connect them, how to control them, how to measure them and how to fix the inevitable errors," added Slusher.

Future work at GTRI will include testing new trap designs, such as linear traps optimized for holding long ion chains.

"This field requires a multidisciplinary effort and Georgia Tech has the synergy and strengths in the technology and science areas and the fabrication facilities to make real progress," added Slusher.

This material is based upon work supported by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) Scaled Multiplexed Ion Trap project under U.S. Army Award No. W911NF-08-1-0315, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Optical Lattice Emulator program under U.S. Army Award No. W911NF-07-1-0576. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the researchers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Army.

Abby Vogel | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions
19.03.2018 | Vienna University of Technology

nachricht 'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region
16.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>