David Kirkpatrick

November 14, 2008

Atomic quantum computing

One more bullet for the quantum computing arsenal.

From the PhysOrg link:

“There are a number of different proposals for quantum computing,” Andrew Daley tells PhysOrg.com. “These include solid state or semiconductor as well as atomic and molecular systems. We are considering atomic systems, and more specifically alkaline earth metals.”

Daley is a physicist in the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Innsbruck and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Austria. He, along with Martin Boyd and Jun Ye at the University of Colorado, and Peter Zoller at Innsbruck, are proposing a quantum computing scheme that would make use of overlaying optical lattices to store information as well as perform computations. Much of this work was performed when the authors were guests at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and their ideas are shared in Physical Review Letters: “Quantum Computing with Alkaline-Earth-Metal Atoms.”

Electrons play a vital role in quantum computing with atoms, and when atoms are controlled with light, the electrons are also controlled. “That’s what makes alkali atoms nice to deal with,” says Daley. “They only have one valence electron, which makes the system really simple.” He then points out that alkaline earth metals offer an advantage over alkali atoms: “There are two electrons weakly bound. Even though the system is a little more complicated, there are some very nice properties.”

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