In an international first, Austrian quantum physicists have realized a toolbox of elementary building blocks for an open-system quantum simulator, where a controlled coupling to an environment is used in a beneficial way. This offers novel prospects for studying the behavior of highly complex quantum systems. The researchers have published their work in the scientific journal Nature.
An ion interacts with the quantum system and, at the same time, establishes a controlled contact to the environment. Graphics: Harald Ritsch
Many phenomena in our world are based on the nature of quantum physics: the structure of atoms and molecules, chemical reactions, material properties, magnetism and possibly also certain biological processes. Since the complexity of phenomena increases exponentially with more quantum particles involved, a detailed study of these complex systems reaches its limits quickly; and conventional computers fail when calculating these problems. To overcome these difficulties, physicists have been developing quantum simulators on various platforms, such as neutral atoms, ions or solid-state systems, which, similar to quantum computers, utilize the particular nature of quantum physics to control this complexity. In a special issue at the end of 2010, the scientific journal Science chose the progress made in this field as one of the scientific breakthroughs of the year 2010.
In another breakthrough in this field, a team of young scientists in the research groups of Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller at the Institute for Experimental Physics and Theoretical Physics of the University of Innsbruck and the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences have been the first to engineer a comprehensive toolbox for an open-system quantum computer, which will enable researchers to construct more sophisticated quantum simulators for investigating complex problems in quantum physics.
The Innsbruck researchers are supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the European Commission and the Federation of Austrian Industries Tyrol.Publication: An Open-System Quantum Simulator with Trapped Ions. Julio T. Barreiro, Markus Müller, Philipp Schindler, Daniel Nigg, Thomas Monz, Michael Chwalla, Markus Hennrich, Christian F. Roos, Peter Zoller und Rainer Blatt. Nature 2011.
Dr. Christian Flatz | Universität Innsbruck
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