World first for quantum memory storage

Jun 24, 2010
Light passes through the crystal in the quantum memory experiment. Photo: ANU

(PhysOrg.com) -- An Australian National University-led team has developed the most efficient quantum memory for light in the world, taking us closer to a future of super-fast computers and communication secured by the laws of physics.

The team at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering used a technique they pioneered to stop and control light from a laser, manipulating in a crystal cooled to a chilly -270 degrees Celcius. The unprecedented efficiency and accuracy of the system allows the delicate quantum nature of the light to be stored, manipulated, and recalled.

“Light entering the crystal is slowed all the way to a stop, where it remains until we let it go again,” explains lead researcher Morgan Hedges. “When we do let it go, we get out essentially everything that went in as a three-dimensional hologram, accurate right down to the last photon.

“Because of the inherent uncertainty in , some of the information in this light will be lost the moment it is measured, making it a read-once hologram. Quantum mechanics guarantees this information can only be read once, making it perfect for secure communication.”

The same efficient and accurate qualities make the memory a leading prospect for , which has the potential to be many times faster and more powerful than contemporary computing.

In addition, the researchers say the light storage will allow tests of fundamental physics, such as how the bizarre phenomenon of quantum interacts with of the .

“We could entangle the quantum state of two memories, that is, two crystals,” says team leader Dr Matthew Sellars. “According to quantum mechanics, reading out one memory will instantly alter what is stored in the other, no matter how large the distance between them. According to relativity, the way time passes for one memory is affected by how it moves. With a good , an experiment to measure how these fundamental effects interact could be as simple as putting one crystal in the back of my car and going for a drive.”

Dr Sellars’ team has previously performed an experiment that ‘stopped’ in a crystal for over a second, more than 1,000 times longer than was previously possible. He said that the team is now bringing together systems that combine the high efficiency with storage times of hours.

The research team includes Dr Jevon Longdell from the University of Otago and Dr Yongmin Li from Shanxi University. The findings are published in Nature this week.

Explore further: Physicists design zero-friction quantum engine

Provided by Australian National University

4.8 /5 (24 votes)

Related Stories

Discovery could pave the way for quantum computing

Mar 18, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Two experimental systems at the forefront of modern physics research -- a single trapped ion and a quantum atomic gas -- have been combined for the first time by researchers at Cambridge. ...

Single photon solid-state memory for telecommunications

Mar 08, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- One of the issues associated with quantum information schemes revolves around the ability to develop quantum memories that allow for the retrieval of information on demand. Overcoming this ...

Recommended for you

Physicists design zero-friction quantum engine

22 hours ago

(Phys.org) —In real physical processes, some energy is always lost any time work is produced. The lost energy almost always occurs due to friction, especially in processes that involve mechanical motion. ...

Fluid mechanics suggests alternative to quantum orthodoxy

Sep 12, 2014

The central mystery of quantum mechanics is that small chunks of matter sometimes seem to behave like particles, sometimes like waves. For most of the past century, the prevailing explanation of this conundrum ...

The sound of an atom has been captured

Sep 11, 2014

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology are first to show the use of sound to communicate with an artificial atom. They can thereby demonstrate phenomena from quantum physics with sound taking on ...

The quantum revolution is a step closer

Sep 11, 2014

A new way to run a quantum algorithm using much simpler methods than previously thought has been discovered by a team of researchers at the University of Bristol. These findings could dramatically bring ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

holoman
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 24, 2010
this nanotechnology has been published on a website
many years ago about this concept and is in
test bed development at 2 universities funded by
DOE and NSF. Search for a company called colossal
storage inc.

johanfprins
3 / 5 (4) Jun 27, 2010
Stopping light within a matter-wave is exactly the same physics on a macroscale which is reponsible for an orbital electron around a nucleus to absorb a light-wave. The absorbed light stops and its energy changes from moving with a speed c (no mass-energy) to mass-energy which entangles with the electron-wave. This, in turn, forces this electron-wave to morph "instantaneously" into a higher energy wave: The latter morphing of the wave has been erroneously called a "quantum-jump".

This "stopped" light-eneergy is then again released after a time-interval determined by resonance; so that the electron wave morphs "instantaneously" into a lower energy wave: A "quantum-jump" downwards in energy occurs. No "electron-particle" is involved. WHY WOULD A WAVE ONLY MORPH (COLLAPSE) INSTANTANEOUSLY WHEN ITS INTENSITY IS A PHYSICALLY IMPROBABLE "PROBABILITY DISTRIBUTION"? Any wave MUST morph "instantaneously" when the change in boundary conditions requires it to do so. It has no other choice!