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2Physics Quote:
"Many of the molecules found by ROSINA DFMS in the coma of comet 67P are compatible with the idea that comets delivered key molecules for prebiotic chemistry throughout the solar system and in particular to the early Earth increasing drastically the concentration of life-related chemicals by impact on a closed water body. The fact that glycine was most probably formed on dust grains in the presolar stage also makes these molecules somehow universal, which means that what happened in the solar system could probably happen elsewhere in the Universe."
-- Kathrin Altwegg and the ROSINA Team

(Read Full Article: "Glycine, an Amino Acid and Other Prebiotic Molecules in Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko"
)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Controlling Individual Qubits in Quantum Computers

Nathan Lundblad

In a paper published in 'Nature Physics', a team of physicists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reports a viable way of manipulating a single “bit” in a quantum processor without disturbing the information stored in its neighbors -- thus overcoming another hurdle in the development of quantum computer. The approach, which makes novel use of polarized light to create “effective” magnetic fields, could bring the long-sought computers a step closer to reality.

A great challenge in creating a working quantum computer is maintaining control over the carriers of information, the “switches” in a quantum processor while isolating them from the environment. These quantum bits, or “qubits,” have the uncanny ability to exist in both “on” and “off” positions simultaneously, giving quantum computers the power to solve problems conventional computers find intractable – such as breaking complex cryptographic codes.

One approach to quantum computer development aims to use a single isolated rubidium atom as a qubit. Each such rubidium atom can take on any of eight different energy states, so the design goal is to choose two of these energy states to represent the on and off positions. Ideally, these two states should be completely insensitive to stray magnetic fields that can destroy the qubit’s ability to be simultaneously on and off, ruining calculations. However, choosing such “field-insensitive” states also makes the qubits less sensitive to those magnetic fields used intentionally to select and manipulate them. “It’s a bit of a catch-22,” says NIST’s Nathan Lundblad. “The more sensitive to individual control you make the qubits, the more difficult it becomes to make them work properly.”

Optical lattices use lasers to separate rubidium atoms (red) for use as information “bits” in neutral-atom quantum processors -- prototype devices which designers are trying to develop into full-fledged quantum computers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) physicists have managed to isolate and control pairs of the rubidium atoms with polarized light, an advance that may bring quantum computing a step closer to reality [image credit: NIST]

To solve the problem of using magnetic fields to control the individual atoms while keeping stray fields at bay, the NIST team used two pairs of energy states within the same atom. Each pair is best suited to a different task: One pair is used as a “memory” qubit for storing information, while the second “working” pair comprises a qubit to be used for computation. While each pair of states is field- insensitive, transitions between the memory and working states are sensitive, and amenable to field control. When a memory qubit needs to perform a computation, a magnetic field can make it change hats. And it can do this without disturbing nearby memory qubits.

The NIST team demonstrated this approach in an array of atoms grouped into pairs, using the technique to address one member of each pair individually. Grouping the atoms into pairs, Lundblad says, allows the team to simplify the problem from selecting one qubit out of many to selecting one out of two – which, as they show in their paper, can be done by creating an effective magnetic field, not with electric current as is ordinarily done, but with a beam of polarized light.

The polarized-light technique, which the NIST team developed, can be extended to select specific qubits out of a large group, making it useful for addressing individual qubits in a quantum processor without affecting those nearby. “If a working quantum computer is ever to be built,” Lundblad says, “these problems need to be addressed, and we think we’ve made a good case for how to do it.”

But, Lundblad adds, the long-term challenge to quantum computing remains: integrating all of the required ingredients into a single apparatus with many qubits.

Reference
"Field-sensitive addressing and control of field-insensitive neutral-atom qubits"
N. Lundblad, J.M. Obrecht, I.B. Spielman, and J.V. Porto,
Nature Physics, July 5, 2009 (doi:10.1038/nphys1330).
Abstract.

[We thank NIST for materials used in this posting]

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1 Comments:

At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a most enlightening article.
Can you tell me if much work is ongoing to have a base360 method of calculation and representation in the next generation of quantum computers?
Scott, Glasgow, UK

 

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