Researchers use light used to detect quantum information stored in 100,000 nuclear quantum bits
Quantum particles. Credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, were able to inject a ‘needle’ of highly fragile quantum information in a ‘haystack’ of 100,000 nuclei. Using lasers to control an electron, the researchers could then use that electron to control the behaviour of the haystack, making it easier to find the needle. They were able to detect the ‘needle’ with a precision of 1.9 parts per million: high enough to detect a single quantum bit in this large ensemble. The technique makes it possible to send highly fragile quantum information optically to a nuclear system for storage, and to verify its imprint with minimal disturbance, an important step in the development of a quantum internet based on quantum light sources. The results are reported in the journal Nature Physics.
Channels of light that transmit quantum information are promising candidates for a quantum internet, and currently there is no better quantum light source than the semiconductor quantum dot: tiny crystals that are essentially artificial atoms. However, one thing stands in the way of quantum dots and a quantum internet: the ability to store quantum information temporarily at staging posts along the network. “The solution to this problem is to store the fragile quantum information by hiding it in the cloud of 100,000 atomic nuclei that each quantum dot contains, like a needle in a haystack,” said Professor Mete Atatüre from Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory, who led the research.
Atatüre and his colleagues showed in 2019 that when cooled to ultra-low temperatures also using light, these nuclei can be made to do ‘quantum dances’ in unison, significantly reducing the amount of noise in the system. Using the light from a laser, the researchers are able to communicate with an electron, which then communicates with the spins, or inherent angular momentum, of the nuclei. By talking to the electron, the chaotic ensemble of spins starts to cool down and rally around the shepherding electron; out of this more ordered state, the electron can create spin waves in the nuclei. Using this technique, the researchers are able to send information to the quantum bit and ‘listen in’ on what the spins are saying with minimal disturbance, down to the fundamental limit set by quantum mechanics. Besides its potential usage for a future quantum internet, the technique could also be useful in the development of solid-state quantum computing.
(Source: University of Cambridge news release)