Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NIST Demonstrates Sustained Quantum Processing in Step Toward Building Quantum Computers

07.08.2009
Raising prospects for building a practical quantum computer, physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated sustained, reliable information processing operations on electrically charged atoms (ions).

The new work, described in the August 6 issue of Science Express,* overcomes significant hurdles in scaling up ion-trapping technology from small demonstrations to larger quantum processors.

In the new demonstration, NIST researchers repeatedly performed a combined sequence of five quantum logic operations and ten transport operations while reliably maintaining the 0s and 1s of the binary data stored in the ions, which serve as quantum bits (qubits) for a hypothetical quantum computer, and retaining the ability to subsequently manipulate this information. Previously, scientists at NIST and elsewhere have been unable to coax any qubit technology into performing a complete set of quantum logic operations while transporting information, without disturbances degrading the later processes.

“The significant advance is that we can keep on computing, despite the fact we’re doing a lot of qubit transport,” says first author Jonathan Home, a NIST post-doctoral researcher.

The NIST group performed some of the earliest experiments on quantum information processing and has previously demonstrated many basic components needed for computing with trapped ions. The new research combines previous advances with two crucial solutions to previously chronic vulnerabilities: cooling of ions after transport so their fragile quantum properties can be used for subsequent logic operations, and storing data values in special states of ions that are resistant to unwanted alterations by stray magnetic fields.

As a result, the NIST researchers have now demonstrated on a small scale all the generally recognized requirements for a large-scale ion-based quantum processor. Previously they could perform all of the following processes a few at a time, but now they can perform all of them together and repeatedly: (1) “initialize” qubits to the desired starting state (0 or 1), (2) store qubit data in ions, (3) perform logic operations on one or two qubits, (4) transfer information between different locations in the processor, and (5) read out qubit results individually (0 or 1).

Through its use of ions, the NIST experiment showcases one promising architecture for a quantum computer, a potentially powerful machine that theoretically could solve some problems that are currently intractable, such as breaking today’s most widely used encryption codes. Relying on the unusual rules of the submicroscopic quantum world, qubits can act as 0s and 1s simultaneously, unlike ordinary digital bits, which hold only one value at any given time. Quantum computers also derive their power from the fact that qubits can be “entangled,” so their properties are linked, even at a distance. Ions are one of a number of different types of quantum systems under investigation around the world for use as qubits in a quantum computer. There is no general agreement on which system will turn out to be the best.

The NIST experiments described in Science Express stored the qubits in two beryllium ions held in a trap with six distinct zones. Electric fields are used to move the ions from one zone to another in the trap, and ultraviolet laser pulses of specific frequencies and duration are used to manipulate the ions’ energy states. The scientists demonstrated repeated rounds of a sequence of logic operations (four single-qubit operations and a two-qubit operation) on the ions and found that operational error rates did not increase as they progressed through the series, despite transporting qubits across macroscopic distances (960 micrometers, or almost a millimeter) while carrying out the operations.

The NIST researchers applied two key innovations to quantum-information processing. First, they used two partner magnesium ions as “refrigerants” for cooling the beryllium ions after transporting them, thereby allowing logic operations to continue without any additional error due to heating incurred during transport. The strong electric forces between the ions enabled the laser-cooled magnesium to cool down the beryllium ions, and thereby remove heat associated with their motion, without disturbing the stored quantum information. The new experiment is the first to apply this “sympathetic cooling” in preparation for successful two-qubit logic operations.

The other significant innovation was the use of three different pairs of energy states within the beryllium ions to hold information during different processing steps. This allowed information to be held in ion states that were not altered by magnetic field fluctuations during ion storage and transport, eliminating another source of processing errors. Information was transferred to different energy levels in the beryllium ions for performing logic operations or reading out their data values.

The NIST experiment began with two qubits held in separate zones of the ion trap, so they could be manipulated individually to initialize their states, perform single-qubit logic operations, and read out results. The ions were then combined in a single trap zone for a two-qubit logic operation, and again separated and transported to different trap regions for subsequent single-qubit logic operations. To evaluate the effectiveness of the processes, the scientists performed the experiment 3,150 times for each of 16 different starting states. The experimental results for one and two applications of the sequence of operations were then compared to each other as well as to a theoretical model of perfect results.

The NIST quantum processor worked with an accuracy of 94 percent, averaged over all iterations of the experiment. In addition, the error rate was the same for each of two consecutive repeats of the logical sequence, demonstrating that the operations are insulated from errors that might have been introduced by ion transport. The error rate of 6 percent is not yet close to 0.01 percent threshold identified by experts for fault-tolerant quantum computing, Home notes. Reducing the error rate is a focus of current NIST research. Another issue in scaling up the technology to build a practical computer will be controlling ions in large, complex arrays of traps—work also being pursued in the NIST group.

There are also more mundane challenges: NIST scientists successfully performed five rounds of the logic and transport sequence (a total of 25 logic operations plus 4 preparation and analysis steps), but an attempt to continue to a sixth round crashed the conventional computer used to control the lasers and ions of the quantum processor. Nonetheless, the new demonstration moves ion-trap technology significantly forward on the path to a large quantum processor.

The research was supported in part by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.

*J. P. Home, D. Hanneke, J. D. Jost, J. M. Amini, D. Leibfried and D. J. Wineland. 2009. Complete methods set for scalable ion trap quantum information processing. Science Express. Posted online August 6.

Laura Ost | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light
23.10.2017 | Chalmers University of Technology

nachricht Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons
23.10.2017 | Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

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: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>