Thursday, January 19, 2012
Physics Research Conference
Quantum Networks of Trapped Atomic Ions
Chris Monroe, Bice Zorn Professor of Physics, University of Maryland
Trapped atomic ions are standards for quantum information processing, with each atom storing a quantum bit (qubit) of information in appropriate internal electronic levels. All of the fundamental quantum operations have been demonstrated between small numbers of atoms, and the central challenge now is how to scale the system to larger numbers of interacting qubits. The Coulomb interaction between trapped ions allows entangling operations through the collective motion of the ion crystal, which can be excited through the state-dependent optical dipole forces. When such an force is applied globally, an effective spin-spin interaction emerges whose sign and range can be precisely controlled with the laser, and any possible spin correlation function can be measured with standard state-dependent fluorescence techniques. This allows the quantum simulation of interesting spin models that possess nontrivial ground states for the investigation of quantum phase transitions, quantum frustration, and the emergence of spin liquid behavior. Such a quantum network may be limited in size by the stability and coherence of the motion of larger ion crystals, and current efforts are devoted to multiplexing to even bigger systems by shuttling ions through complex ion trap structures or mapping qubits onto photons that can allow the probabilistic entanglement between remotely-located atoms. Work on all of these fronts will be reported, including quantum simulations of magnetism with N=16 atomic qubits as well as progress on operating deterministic gates between atoms separated by macroscopic distances.