Scalable device for quantum information processing

Jul 24, 2012
Microtrap chip

(Phys.org) -- Researchers in NPL's Quantum Detection Group have demonstrated for the first time a monolithic 3D ion microtrap array which could be scaled up to handle several tens of ion-based quantum bits (qubits). The research, published in Nature Nanotechnology, shows how it is possible to realise this device embedded in a semiconductor chip, and demonstrates the device's ability to confine individual ions at the nanoscale.

As the UK's National Measurement Institute, NPL is interested in how exotic quantum states of matter can be used to make high of, for example, time and frequency, ever more accurate. This research, however, has implications wider than measurement. The device could be used in quantum computation, where entangled qubits are used to execute powerful quantum algorithms. As an example, factorisation of large numbers by a is dramatically faster than with a classical algorithm.

Scalable ion traps consisting of a 2D array of electrodes have been developed, however 3D trap geometries can provide a superior potential for confining the ions. Creating a successful scalable 3D ion trapping device is based on maintaining two qualities - the ability to scale the device to accommodate increasing numbers of atomic particles, whilst preserving the trapping potential which enables precise control of ions at the atomic level. Previous research resulted in compromising at least one of these factors, largely due to limitations in the manufacturing processes.

The team at NPL has now produced the first monolithic ion microtrap array which uniquely combines a near ideal 3D geometry with a scalable fabrication process - a breakthrough in this field. In terms of elementary operating characteristics, the microtrap chip outperforms all other scalable devices for ions.

Using a novel process based on conventional semiconductor fabrication technology, scientists developed the microtrap device from a silica-on-silicon wafer. The team were able to confine individual and strings of up to 14 ions in a single segment of the array. The fabrication process should enable device scaling to handle greatly increased numbers of ions, whilst retaining the ability to individually control each of them.

Due to the enormous progress in nanotechnology, the power of classical processor chips has been scaled up according to Moore's Law. Quantum processors are in their infancy, and the NPL device is a promising approach for advancing the scale of such chips for ion-based qubits.

Alastair Sinclair, Principal Scientist, NPL said: "We managed to produce an essential device or tool, which is critical for state-of-the-art research and development in quantum technologies. This could be the basis of a future atomic clock device, with relevance for location, timing, navigation services or even the basis of a future quantum processor chip based on trapped , leading to a quantum computer and a quantum information network."

Explore further: Quantum computers could greatly accelerate machine learning

More information: Read the full paper, A monolithic array of three-dimensional ion traps fabricated with conventional semiconductor technology, in Nature Nanotechnology.

Related Stories

Ion trap quantum computing

May 12, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- “Right now, classical computers are faster than quantum computers,” René Stock tells PhysOrg.com. “The goal of quantum computing is to eventually speed up the time scale of solving certain import ...

Recommended for you

Scientists succeed in linking two different quantum systems

16 hours ago

Physicists at the Universities of Bonn and Cambridge have succeeded in linking two completely different quantum systems to one another. In doing so, they have taken an important step forward on the way to a quantum computer. ...

First glimpse inside a macroscopic quantum state

Mar 27, 2015

In a recent study published in Physical Review Letters, the research group led by ICREA Prof at ICFO Morgan Mitchell has detected, for the first time, entanglement among individual photon pairs in a beam ...

Theory of the strong interaction verified

Mar 26, 2015

The fact that the neutron is slightly more massive than the proton is the reason why atomic nuclei have exactly those properties that make our world and ultimately our existence possible. Eighty years after ...

3,000 atoms entangled with a single photon

Mar 25, 2015

Physicists from MIT and the University of Belgrade have developed a new technique that can successfully entangle 3,000 atoms using only a single photon. The results, published today in the journal Nature, repres ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.