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Quantum Computing Advance Locates Neutral Atoms

By Penn State News

August 19, 2015

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Pennsylvania State University researchers have developed a method for addressing individual neutral atoms without changing surrounding atoms.

The researchers want to use neutral atoms for quantum computing, and focused on ways to individually locate and address an atom to store and retrieve information. They first used laser light to create a three-dimensional lattice of traps for neutral cesium atoms with no more than one atom at each lattice site.

"We are studying neutral atom qubits because it is clear that you can have thousands in an apparatus," says Penn State professor David S. Weiss.

However, the researchers note neutral atoms cannot be held in place as well as ions, because background atoms in the near vacuum occasionally knock them out of the traps.

After the cesium atoms were in place, the researchers set them to their lowest quantum state by cooling them. They then shifted the internal quantum state of the atoms using two perpendicular circularly polarized addressing beams. The targeted atom was shifted about twice as much as any other atom, enabling the researchers to use microwaves to change the target atom's qubit state without affecting the states of any other atoms.

The researchers can only fill about 50 percent of the laser atom traps with atoms, but they can perform quantum gates on those atoms with 93-percent fidelity and cross-talk that is too small to measure.

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