One of several promising approaches to quantum computing uses arrays of individual atoms suspended by electromagnetic forces. Pulses of laser light manipulate the internal states of the atoms that represent the qubits, to carry out the calculation. However the lasers must also be focused and aimed so accurately that light meant for one atom doesn’t affect its neighbors.
The new system did just that. Tiny micromirrors, each only twice the diameter of a human hair, pointed to each target atom in as little as 5 microseconds, which is about 1,000 times faster than sophisticated beam-steering mirrors developed for optical communications switching, not to mention the still slower units used in light shows. The researchers saw that the laser pulses also correctly manipulated the quantum properties of each target atom – in this case a line of five rubidium-87 atoms — without disturbing any neighboring atoms, which were separated by just 8.7 microns, about one-tenth the diameter of a human hair.
We demonstrate a scalable approach to addressing multiple atomic qubits for use in quantum information processing. Individually trapped 87Rb atoms in a linear array are selectively manipulated with a single laser guided by a MEMS beam steering system. Single qubit oscillations are shown on multiple sites at frequencies of about 3.5 MHz with negligible crosstalk to neighboring sites. Switching times between the central atom and its closest neighbor were measured to be 6-7 μs while moving between the central atom and an atom two trap sites away took 10-14 μs.
In recent years, there has been heightened interest in quantum teleportation, which allows for the transfer of unknown quantum states over arbitrary distances. Quantum teleportation not only serves as an essential ingredient in long-distance quantum communication, but also provides enabling technologies for practical quantum computation. Of particular interest is the scheme proposed by D. Gottesman and I. L. Chuang [(1999) Nature 402:390–393], showing that quantum gates can be implemented by teleporting qubits with the help of some special entangled states. Therefore, the construction of a quantum computer can be simply based on some multiparticle entangled states, Bell-state measurements, and single-qubit operations. The feasibility of this scheme relaxes experimental constraints on realizing universal quantum computation. Using two different methods, we demonstrate the smallest nontrivial module in such a scheme—a teleportation-based quantum entangling gate for two different photonic qubits. One uses a high-fidelity six-photon interferometer to realize controlled-NOT gates, and the other uses four-photon hyperentanglement to realize controlled-Phase gates. The results clearly demonstrate the working principles and the entangling capability of the gates. Our experiment represents an important step toward the realization of practical quantum computers and could lead to many further applications in linear optics quantum information processing.
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