Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physics turns a corner with three-point turn atoms

18.01.2006


You may think making a three-point turn in your car is easy, but how about doing the same with a single-charged atom?



That’s what scientists have achieved for the first time, marking a major breakthrough for physics and a first step towards creating the complicated labyrinth of ’atomic motorways’ needed for a quantum computer.

The microscopic motoring manoeuvre was performed by University of Sussex physicist Dr Winfried Hensinger with colleagues at the University of Michigan, USA. Details of the experiment are published in the January 2006 issue of the journal Applied Physics Letters.


The ability to shuttle ions (charged atoms) in a controlled environment is seen as an important demonstration of how to harness the seemingly magical properties of atoms. This development will help scientists to store and analyse the vast quantities of data used in highly sophisticated calculations - in super-fast quantum computers.

To be able to build this kind of computer, scientists need to trap ions - no mean feat in itself - then control their movements in a sophisticated labyrinth of ’atomic roads’. Such a process has previously been carried out for single ions along one line, but Dr Hensinger (now Lecturer in Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics at Sussex), and the Michigan team have shown how they can make atoms turn a corner.

Keen for more driving pleasure, they even managed to switch two ions around by having them perform a three-point turn. This will hopefully allow eventually for the mass-manipulation of atoms, vital for the operation of a quantum computer.

Ion traps are made from micro-fabricated electrodes, in which ions are controlled by electric fields in an ultra-high vacuum chamber. The new construction, the first two-dimensional ion trap array, is the most sophisticated yet. The ions are steered inside a T-junction that is laser micro-machined in thin layers of a material called alumina.

Dr Hensinger says: "This is big news because it is very difficult to trap atoms, let alone manipulate them in transit. This and other recent developments show that it should be possible to build a quantum computer with trapped ions. Now we can take two atoms and swap them around, which mathematically corresponds to a fundamental requirement for a quantum computer. This is the prerequisite to go from something academically interesting to something useful. This is a quantum leap in the development of the quantum computer."

Quantum technology could be used in the future to understand chemical reactions, create medicines, ultra-fast communications systems and seemingly impossible simulations, such as the creation of our universe.

Maggie Clune | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sussex.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

nachricht Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

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...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>