Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Moving electrons around loops with light: A quantum device based on geometry

22.02.2016

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.


This artist's rendition shows a laser light guiding the evolution of an electronic spin within an atomic-scale defect in diamond. These light-driven loops give rise to a geometric phase, a quantum logic operation that shows remarkable resilience to noise.

Credit: Peter Allen

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."

Quantum geometry

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!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Studying fundamental particles in materials
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

nachricht Seeing the quantum future... literally
16.01.2017 | University of Sydney

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: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>