Matter shines light on quantum data interface at NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) says it has developed a new way of reading data in a quantum computing. This paves the way for a light-matter quantum interface, making for much more efficient quantum data processing.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) says it has developed a new way of reading data in a quantum computing. This paves the way for a light-matter quantum interface, making for much more efficient quantum data processing.

The design shows it is possible to develop a system that could pair a single photon with a single ion. This would create an information interface between light and matter quantum bits (qubits): for example, the spins of individual ions could be transferred to the field orientations of individual photons, which in turn could be transported to other parts of a quantum computer network.

The paper, to be published in Physical Review Letters, describes a 1-millimetre-square ion trap with a built-in optical fibre. Postdoctoral researcher Aaron VanDevender says: "The design is helpful because of the tight coupling between the ion and the fiber, and also because it's small, so you can get a lot of fibers on a chip."

In the announcement, NIST says: “ Light emitted by an ion passes through a hole in an electrode and is collected in the fiber below the electrode surface. By contrast, conventional ion traps use large external lenses typically located 5 centimetres away from the ions—about 500 times farther than the fibre—to collect the fluorescence light.”

Although the optical fibre doesn't capture as much light as a lens, this doesn't matter because the ions are extremely bright, so it is good enough to get the data needed for a quantum computer. Shaping the tip of the fibre and using special anti-reflective coatings will boost efficiency, and the team notes that multiple fibres could be built into a single trap, making it potentially much better at handling large numbers of ions.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.
See All
See All