Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Speedy ions could add zip to quantum computers

Date:
August 13, 2012
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
Take that, sports cars! Physicists can accelerate their beryllium ions from zero to 100 miles per hour and stop them in just a few microseconds. The researchers think their zippy ions may be useful in future quantum computers.

Still image from an animation showing rapid transport of a single ion over about 0.37 millimeters within 8 millionths of a second. The ion is held and moved with electric fields, its transport controlled by changing electric potentials 50 million steps per second. The blue ribbon illustrates the changing field potential moving along the track. When the potential minimum starts to move, the ion first lags behind, then accelerates to catch up with the minimum, charges ahead and gets decelerated, finally landing in the same place as the potential minimum. This cycle repeats at the natural oscillation frequency of the ion in the well. If the potential minimum stops moving exactly at the end of one of these cycles the ion stops in a state of minimal energy. This transport pattern can be realized at many length and time scales. The exact same principle can move a ping-pong ball inside a curved salad bowl with the ball at rest before and after the transport.
Credit: Leibfried/NIST

Take that, sports cars! Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) can accelerate their beryllium ions from zero to 100 miles per hour and stop them in just a few microseconds. What's more, the ions come to a complete stop and hardly feel the effects of the ride. And they're not just good for submicroscopic racing -- NIST physicists think their zippy ions may be useful in future quantum computers.

The ions (electrically charged atoms) travel 100 times faster than was possible before across a few hundred micrometers in an ion trap -- a single ion can go 370 micrometers in 8 microseconds, to be exact (about 100 miles per hour.)

Although ions can go much faster in accelerators, the NIST ions demonstrate precision control of fast acceleration and sudden stops in an ion trap. A close analogy is a marble resting at the bottom of a bowl, and the bowl suddenly accelerating (see animation). During the transport, the marble will oscillate back and forth relative to the center of the bowl. If the bowl is suddenly stopped at the right time, the marble will come to rest together with the bowl. Furthermore, the NIST researchers assured that their atomic marble's electron energy levels are not affected, which is important for a quantum computer, where information stored in these energy levels would need to be moved around without compromising the information content.

For a quantum computer to solve important problems that are intractable today, the information carried by many quantum bits, or qubits, needs to be moved around in the processor. With ion qubits, this can be accomplished by physically moving the ions. In the past, moving ions took much longer than the duration of logic operations on the ions. Now these timescales are nearly equivalent. This reduces processing overhead, making it possible to move ions and prepare them for reuse much faster than before.

As described in Physical Review Letters, NIST researchers cooled trapped ions to their lowest quantum energy state of motion and, in separate experiments, transported one and two ions across hundreds of micrometers in a multi-zone trap. Rapid acceleration excites the ions' oscillatory motion, which is undesirable, but researchers controlled the deceleration well enough to return the ions to their original quantum state when they came to a stop. A research group from Mainz, Germany, reports similar results.

The secret to the speed and control is custom electronics. NIST researcher Ryan Bowler used fast FPGA (field programmable gate array) technology to program the voltage levels and durations applied to various electrodes in the ion trap. The smooth voltage supply can move the ions very fast while also keeping them from getting too excited.

With advances in precision control, researchers think ions could be transported even more quickly and yet still return to their original quantum states when they stop. Researchers must also continue to work on the many practical challenges, such as suppressing unwanted heating of the ion motion from noisy electric fields in the environment. The research is supported by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, National Security Agency, Office of Naval Research, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Bowler, J. Gaebler, Y. Lin, T.R. Tan, D. Hanneke, J.D. Jost, J.P. Home, D. Leibfried and D.J. Wineland. Coherent diabatic ion transport and separation in a multi-zone trap array. Physical Review Letters, 2012; (forthcoming)

Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Speedy ions could add zip to quantum computers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813173303.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2012, August 13). Speedy ions could add zip to quantum computers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813173303.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Speedy ions could add zip to quantum computers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813173303.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A 19-year-old computer science student has been arrested in relation to a data breach of 900 social insurance numbers from Canada's revenue agency. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple Rumored To Introduce Song ID Service In Next iOS Build

Apple Rumored To Introduce Song ID Service In Next iOS Build

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) Sources close to Apple told Bloomberg the company plans to introduce an integrated song identification service during the launch of its next iOS. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yahoo's Ousted COO Gets $58M Severance Package

Yahoo's Ousted COO Gets $58M Severance Package

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) According to SEC filings, Yahoo gave ousted COO Henrique de Castro a $58 million severance package. 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:
from the past week

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