Researchers at the University of Bonn have cleared a further hassle on the route to preparing quantum computers. In a present study, they introduce a technique with which they can very efficiently and accurately sort huge numbers of atoms. Think you are standing in a grocery store purchasing apple juice. Unfortunately, all of the crates are half empty as other clients have removed individual bottoms at random. So you meticulously fill your crate bottle by bottle.
But think again, the neighbouring crate is filled in precisely the opposite way. It has bottles where your crate has gaps. If you could lift such bottles in one hit and place them in your crate, it would be completely straight away. You could secure yourself a lot of work. Unfortunately, such solutions don’t exist for half-empty drink crates. But, researchers at the University of Bonn intend to sort thousands of atoms but they like in the future in this way, an in a matter of seconds.
Across the world, researchers are presently looking for techniques that allow sorting procedures in the microcosm. The proposal by Bonn-based scientists could push the development of future quantum computers a critical step forwards. This enables atoms to interact with each other in a targeted way in order to be able to exploit the quantum mechanical effects for estimations. Moreover, the particles have to be brought into spatial proximity with one another.
The researchers are employing a special property of atoms to prepare their sorting machine. They rotate around their own orbits like spinning tops. The direction of rotation, the spin can be influenced with microwaves. The researchers hence initially set all of the atoms off in the similar direction of rotation in their study.
In this state, it was feasible to load the particles onto a laser beam. But, beforehand, they had to manipulate the laser in such a method that it matched the spin of its particles – a procedure known as polarization. The atoms were then held by the polarized laser beam in such a way that they were unable to move. Each particle occupies a specific place on the laser beam – similar to the bottles in the crate.
But, like in the drinks crate, some of the places in the laser beam are also unoccupied. “We hence reserved the direction of rotation in a highly targeted way for individual atoms,” explains Dr. Andrea Alberti, the team leader of the Institute of Applied Physics of the University of Bonn. “Such particles were then no longer captures by our laser beam. But, we were able to grab them with a second, distinctly polarized laser beam and hence move them as desired.
In principle, this technique is ideal for creating any atom pattern. This makes it interesting for solid-state researchers, for instance, to identify the behaviour of semiconductor crystals under specific conditions.
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