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Using light to throw and catch atoms to open up a new chapter for quantum computing​

A schematic diagram of the atom catching and throwing technique. The optical tweezer on the left kicks the atom to throw it into a trajectory to have the tweezer on the right catch it to stop it. @ KAIST

The technology to move and arrange atoms, the most basic component of a quantum computer, is very important to Rydberg quantum computing research. However, to place the atoms at the desired location, the atoms must be captured and transported one by one using a highly focused laser beam, commonly referred to as an optical tweezer. and, the quantum information of the atoms is likely to change midway.

KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) announced on the 27th that a research team led by Professor Jaewook Ahn of the Department of Physics developed a technology to throw and receive rubidium atoms one by one using a laser beam.

The research team developed a method to throw and receive atoms which would minimize the time the optical tweezers are in contact with the atoms in which the quantum information the atoms carry may change. The research team used the characteristic that the rubidium atoms, which are kept at a very low temperature of 40μK below absolute zero, move very sensitively to the electromagnetic force applied by light along the focal point of the light tweezers.

The research team accelerated the laser of an optical tweezer to give an optical kick to an atom to send it to a target, then caught the flying atom with another optical tweezer to stop it. The atom flew at a speed of 65 cm/s, and traveled up to 4.2 μm. Compared to the existing technique of guiding the atoms with the optical tweezers, the technique of throwing and receiving atoms eliminates the need to calculate the transporting path for the tweezers, and makes it easier to fix the defects in the atomic arrangement. As a result, it is effective in generating and maintaining a large number of atomic arrangements, and when the technology is used to throw and receive flying atom qubits, it will be used in studying new and more powerful quantum computing methods that presupposes the structural changes in quantum arrangements.

"This technology will be used to develop larger and more powerful Rydberg quantum computers," says Professor Jaewook Ahn. “In a Rydberg quantum computer,” he continues, “atoms are arranged to store quantum information and interact with neighboring atoms through electromagnetic forces to perform quantum computing. The method of throwing an atom away for quick reconstruction the quantum array can be an effective way to fix an error in a quantum computer that requires a removal or replacement of an atom.”

Reference Optical tweezers throw and catch single atoms

Hansub Hwang, Andrew Byun, Juyoung Park, Sylvain de Léséleuc, and Jaewook Ahn


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