Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Trapping giant Rydberg atoms for faster quantum computers

Date:
May 7, 2010
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
In an achievement that could help enable fast quantum computers, physicists have built a better Rydberg atom trap. Rydberg atoms are highly excited, nearly-ionized giants that can be thousands of times larger than their ground-state counterparts.

An artist's interpretation of Rydberg atom trapping in an optical lattice.
Credit: Kelly Younge

In an achievement that could help enable fast quantum computers, University of Michigan physicists have built a better Rydberg atom trap. Rydberg atoms are highly excited, nearly-ionized giants that can be thousands of times larger than their ground-state counterparts.

As a result of their size, interactions between Rydberg atoms can be roughly a million times stronger than between regular atoms. This is why they could serve as faster quantum circuits, said Georg Raithel, associate chair and professor in the Department of Physics. Quantum computers could solve problems too complicated for conventional computers. Many scientists believe that the future of computation lies in the quantum realm.

A paper on this research is published in the current edition of Physical Review Letters. The work will be presented at the American Physical Society's Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics meeting in late May.

Raithel's team trapped the atoms in what's called an optical lattice -- a crate made of interfering laser beams.

"The optical lattice is better than any other Rydberg atom trap for quantum information processing or high-precision spectroscopy," Raithel said. "Compared with other traps, optical lattices minimize energy level shifts in the atoms, which is important for these applications."

Raithel and physics doctoral students Kelly Younge and Sarah Anderson started with ground-state atoms of the soft metal rubidium. At room temperature, the atoms whiz around at the speed of sound, about 300 meters per second. The researchers hit them with lasers to cool and slow them to 10 centimeters per second.

"That's about the speed of a mosquito," Younge said. "Cooling lasers combined with a magnetic field allows us to trap the ground-state atoms. Then we excite the atoms into Rydberg states."

In a rubidium atom, just one electron occupies the outer valence shell. With precisely tuned lasers, the researchers excited this electron so that it moved 100 times farther away from the nucleus of the atom, which classified it as a Rydberg atom. That valence electron in this case is so far away from the nucleus that it behaves almost as if it's a free electron.

To trap the Rydberg atoms, the researchers took advantage of what's called the "ponderomotive force" that allows them to secure a whole atom by holding fast to one electron -- the sole valence shell particle in the rubidium Rydberg atoms. The optical lattice, formed with intense, interfering laser beams, is what provides the ponderomotive force.

"The laser field holds on to the electron, which behaves almost as if it were free, but the residual weak atomic binding force still holds the atom together. In effect, the entire atom is trapped by the lasers," Raithel said.

The physicists used a technique called "microwave spectroscopy," to determine how the lattice affected the Rydberg atoms, and in general how the atoms behaved in the trap.

"Essentially, we could track the motion of the atoms during the experiment. We could tell if the atoms were sitting in the bottom of a well in the electromagnetic field, or if they were roaming over many wells. In this way, we could optimize the performance of the trap," Younge said.

The paper is called "State-dependent Energy Shifts of Rydberg Atoms in a Ponderomotive Optical Lattice."

This research is funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. C. Younge, B. Knuffman, S. E. Anderson, G. Raithel. State-Dependent Energy Shifts of Rydberg Atoms in a Ponderomotive Optical Lattice. Physical Review Letters, 2010; 104 (17): 173001 DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.173001

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Trapping giant Rydberg atoms for faster quantum computers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100506141638.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2010, May 7). Trapping giant Rydberg atoms for faster quantum computers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100506141638.htm
University of Michigan. "Trapping giant Rydberg atoms for faster quantum computers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100506141638.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Magic Leap isn't publicizing much more than a description of its product, but it’s been enough for Google and others to invest more than $500M. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins