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German Society Awards Top Physics Medal to Blatt

Photonics.com
Mar 2012
INNSBRUCK, Austria, March 28, 2012 — Rainer Blatt has received the Stern-Gerlach Medal of the German Physical Society for his work in the fields of metrology and quantum information processing with electromagnetically stored ions. He is the first Austrian scientist to receive the award.

The medal is the highest honor of the German Physical Society in the field of experimental physics, and the award is made of pure gold.


Rainer Blatt (Image: C. Lackner)

In its decision, the German Physical Society said, “The experimental demonstration of basic building blocks and algorithms of a quantum computer, teleportation of quantum states of matter, the first realization of quantum bytes and the simulation of quantum systems have opened up new scientific research fields and paved the way for future quantum technology.”

Through experiments, Blatt showed that trapped ions offer a unique experimental platform to encode, process and measure quantum bits, a necessity for future quantum computers. All quantum logical operations are realized by a complex series of laser pulses.

A well-known example of quantum algorithms is teleportation; Blatt and his research group from the Institute for Experimental Physics of the University of Innsbruck and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences produced entangled states, which they used for quantum algorithms. They began by entangling two ions, and in 2008, they entangled eight ions in one quantum byte. They currently have pushed the record to 14 entangled ions.

The team also showed that trapped ions can be used in a digital quantum simulator. This research area is based on the propositions of Richard Feynman, who suggested simulating states and dynamics in a highly controlled quantum system to better understand complex many-body systems. If scientists can tailor the quantum state of a many-body system, this quantum technology could be used for applications such as the atomic clock, which uses entanglement of ions to achieve an even higher grade of precision.

The work done by Blatt and his group has inspired researchers beyond the field of quantum optics and quantum information, influencing the fields of condensed matter physics and ultracold atoms.

“[Blatt’s] work provides the basis for future technological application of quantum information,” the German Physical Society said.

For more information, visit: www.uibk.ac.at


GLOSSARY
metrology
The science of measurement, particularly of lengths and angles.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
quantum optics
The area of optics in which quantum theory is used to describe light in discrete units or ‘quanta’ of energy known as photons. First observed by Albert Einstein’s photoelectric effect, this particle description of light is the foundation for describing the transfer of energy (i.e. absorption and emission) in light matter interaction.
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