Laser light shows for quantum computing
DURHAM, N.C., and MADISON, Wis. – Quantum computers have
moved a step closer with a beam-steering system that can focus bursts of laser light
onto single atoms. The system can be compared to the projectors used in laser light
shows, but it is far faster and smaller, and accurate to atom scale.
For quantum computing, laser light must be aimed and focused so
accurately that light meant for one atom will not instead affect its neighbors.
In the new system, micromirrors point to each target atom in as little as 5 µs,
about 1000 times faster than sophisticated beam-steering mirrors developed for optical
communications switching, not to mention units used for light shows. The laser pulses
also manipulated the quantum properties of each target atom in a line of five rubidium-87
atoms as intended – and without disturbing any of the neighboring atoms, which
were just 8.7 µm apart.
Researchers from Duke University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison
collaborated on the system, which was described in Applied Physics Letters, Vol.
97, p. 134101 (2010). Duke researchers designed the micromirror system, and the
atomic physics experiments were performed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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