A new approach to fabricating optical nanofibers could enable the next generation of quantum computing. These ultra-high-transmission fibers, developed by researchers at the University of Maryland’s Joint Quantum Institute, could act as low-power traps for long-lived qubits. Creating the new nanofibers has proven relatively straightforward, according to the researchers: A fine strand of silica fiber is heated by flame to a near-melting point, then pulled apart, prompting the middle to thin out until it is about 530 nm in diameter. Light propagates through an optical nanofiber during the pulling process. Courtesy of Joint Quantum Institute at University of Maryland. Because the fiber is so small, light can leak out in the form of evanescent waves and trap atoms within a few hundred nanometers. The trapped atoms could then be used as qubits, the researchers said. Building quantum systems is difficult because qubits must be in a superposition of states for information to be encoded. The problem arises when qubits fall out of this state, or decohere, too quickly. The researchers are continuing their study, next focusing on interfacing trapped atoms with superconducting circuits. They will also work to guide more complicated optical field patterns through the nanofibers as a way of trapping atoms. The research was published in AIP Advances (doi: 10.1063/1.4879799). For more information, visit www.jqi.umd.edu.