Quantum leap in lasers brightens future for quantum computing

Jul 22, 2014

Dartmouth scientists and their colleagues have devised a breakthrough laser that uses a single artificial atom to generate and emit particles of light. The laser may play a crucial role in the development of quantum computers, which are predicted to eventually outperform today's most powerful supercomputers.

The study appears in the journal Physical Review B.

The new laser is the first to rely exclusively on superconducting . "The fact that we use only superconducting pairs is what makes our work so significant," says Alex Rimberg, a professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth. Superconductivity is a condition that occurs when electricity can travel without any resistance or loss of energy.

"The artificial atom is made of nanoscale pieces of superconductor," says Rimberg. "The reason for using the artificial atom is that you can now make it part of an electrical circuit on a chip, something you can't do with a real atom, and it means we have a much clearer path toward interesting applications in ."

Light from the laser is produced by applying electricity to the . This causes electrons to hop across the atom and, in the process, produce photons that are trapped between two superconducting mirrors. The process is "invisible to the human eye; the hopping electrons dance back and forth across the atom in time with the oscillating waves of the light," Rimberg says.

With the new laser, electrical energy is converted to light that has the ability to transmit information to and from a quantum computer. "With a quantum computer, you have to get the information from point A to point B," he says. "A computer that does a calculation but has no way of getting the information anywhere else isn't particularly useful. Our laser might offer an easy way of producing the kinds of weird quantum states of light that could be used to carry quantum information around."

Much the development came out of the thesis work of one of Rimberg's former graduate students, Fei Chen, first author on the Physical Review B paper, with help from another graduate student Juliang Li, and postdoctoral researcher Joel Stettenheim.

Explore further: Scientists open a new window into quantum physics with superconductivity in LEDs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists track quantum errors in real time

Jul 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —Scientists at Yale University have demonstrated the ability to track real quantum errors as they occur, a major step in the development of reliable quantum computers. They report their results ...

Into the quantum internet at the speed of light

Feb 04, 2013

Not only do optical fibers transmit information every day around the world at the speed of light, but they can also be harnessed for the transport of quantum information. In the current issue of Nature Ph ...

The world's first photonic router

Jul 14, 2014

Weizmann Institute scientists have demonstrated for the first time a photonic router – a quantum device based on a single atom that enables routing of single photons by single photons. This achievement, ...

New 'switch' could power quantum computing

Apr 09, 2014

Using a laser to place individual rubidium atoms near the surface of a lattice of light, scientists at MIT and Harvard University have developed a new method for connecting particles—one that could help ...

Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —Scientists at Yale have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. ...

Recommended for you

Quantum physics just got less complicated

Dec 19, 2014

Here's a nice surprise: quantum physics is less complicated than we thought. An international team of researchers has proved that two peculiar features of the quantum world previously considered distinct ...

Controlling light on a chip at the single-photon level

Dec 16, 2014

Integrating optics and electronics into systems such as fiber-optic data links has revolutionized how we transmit information. A second revolution awaits as researchers seek to develop chips in which individual ...

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.