Scientists demonstrate versatile, noise-tolerant quantum operations on a single electron
While a classical bit found in conventional electronics exists only in binary 1 or 0 states, the more resourceful quantum bit, or 'qubit' is represented by a vector, pointing to a simultaneous combination of the 1 and 0 states. To fully implement a qubit, it is necessary to control the direction of this qubit's vector, which is generally done using fine-tuned and noise-isolated procedures.
Researchers at the University of Chicago's Institute for Molecular Engineering and the University of Konstanz have demonstrated the ability to generate a quantum logic operation, or rotation of the qubit, that - surprisingly -- is intrinsically resilient to noise as well as to variations in the strength or duration of the control. Their achievement is based on a geometric concept known as the Berry phase and is implemented through entirely optical means within a single electronic spin in diamond.
Their findings were published online Feb. 15, 2016, in Nature Photonics and will appear in the March print issue. "We tend to view quantum operations as very fragile and susceptible to noise, especially when compared to conventional electronics," remarked David Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering and senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, who led the research. "In contrast, our approach shows incredible resilience to external influences and fulfills a key requirement for any practical quantum technology."
When a quantum mechanical object, such as an electron, is cycled along some loop, it retains a memory of the path that it travelled, the Berry phase. To better understand this concept, the Foucault pendulum, a common staple of science museums helps to give some intuition. A pendulum, like those in a grandfather clock, typically oscillates back and forth within a fixed plane. However, a Foucault pendulum oscillates along a plane that gradually rotates over the course of a day due to Earth's rotation, and in turn knocks over a series of pins encircling the pendulum.
The number of knocked-over pins is a direct measure of the total angular shift of the pendulum's oscillation plane, its acquired geometric phase. Essentially, this shift is directly related to the location of the pendulum on Earth's surface as the rotation of Earth transports the pendulum along a specific closed path, its circle of latitude. While this angular shift depends on the particular path traveled, Awschalom said, it remarkably does not depend on the rotational speed of Earth or the oscillation frequency of the pendulum.
"Likewise, the Berry phase is a similar path-dependent rotation of the internal state of a quantum system, and it shows promise in quantum information processing as a robust means to manipulate qubit states," he said.
A light touch
In this experiment, the researchers manipulated the Berry phase of a quantum state within a nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center, an atomic-scale defect in diamond. Over the past decade and a half, its electronic spin state has garnered great interest as a potential qubit. In their experiments, the team members developed a method with which to draw paths for this defect's spin by varying the applied laser light. To demonstrate Berry phase, they traced loops similar to that of a tangerine slice within the quantum space of all of the potential combinations of spin states.
"Essentially, the area of the tangerine slice's peel that we drew dictated the amount of Berry phase that we were able to accumulate," said Christopher Yale, a postdoctoral scholar in Awschalom's laboratory, and one of the co-lead authors of the project.
This approach using laser light to fully control the path of the electronic spin is in contrast to more common techniques that control the NV center spin, through the application of microwave fields. Such an approach may one day be useful in developing photonic networks of these defects, linked and controlled entirely by light, as a way to both process and transmit quantum information.
A noisy path
A key feature of Berry phase that makes it a robust quantum logic operation is its resilience to noise sources. To test the robustness of their Berry phase operations, the researchers intentionally added noise to the laser light controlling the path. As a result, the spin state would travel along its intended path in an erratic fashion. However, as long as the total area of the path remained the same, so did the Berry phase that they measured.
"In particular, we found the Berry phase to be insensitive to fluctuations in the intensity of the laser. Noise like this is normally a bane for quantum control," said Brian Zhou, a postdoctoral scholar in the group, and co-lead author.
"Imagine you're hiking along the shore of a lake, and even though you continually leave the path to go take pictures, you eventually finish hiking around the lake," said F. Joseph Heremans, co-lead author, and now a staff scientist at Argonne National Laboratory. "You've still hiked the entire loop regardless of the bizarre path you took, and so the area enclosed remains virtually the same."
These optically controlled Berry phases within diamond suggest a route toward robust and fault-tolerant quantum information processing, noted Guido Burkard, professor of physics at the University of Konstanz and theory collaborator on the project.
"Though its technological applications are still nascent, Berry phases have a rich underlying mathematical framework that makes them a fascinating area of study," Burkard said.
Steve Koppes | EurekAlert!
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy