Building 3-D atomic structures atom by atom using lasers

September 6, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report
Experimental setup and trap images. Credit: Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0450-2

A team of researchers at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France has developed a technique for arranging cold atoms into useful 3-D arrayed structures. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes their technique and the ways the structures could be useful.

As work toward the development of a functional quantum computer continues, groups of scientists have worked on technologies required for the development of such a machine. One such requirement is the development of atomic structures—if are to serve as qubits, they must be arranged in precise and useful ways that allow for interactions between one another. Most envision such arrangements to consist of 3-D arrayed structures. In this new effort, the researchers report on a technique they have developed to build 3-D atomic structures in arrayed shapes likely to be needed for quantum computer applications.

The technique involves building microtraps using spatially modulated light. Such traps and other instruments use the energy in light to move single neutral atoms around in desired ways and then to hold them in place. To build a desired structure, the group moved a small mass of into a trap that filled it up just halfway. Doing so situated the atoms in random spots inside the trap. They then activated deflectors that used both sound and light to serve as tweezers that they used to move the atoms in the trap in desired ways. After that, they used the tweezers to grab single atoms outside of the trap and placed them into desired spots inside the trap. The end result was a 3-D structure in a desired shape.

The researchers note that their technique allows for creating 3-D structures in a variety of shapes, all of which are precisely ordered. Notably, the results are free of defects because each atom is placed individually into the structure. To prove the effectiveness of their , the researchers bathed a structure they had built with light and studied the result with a CCD camera—it was able to highlight the fluorescence of the rubidium atoms showing their locations within the microtrap.

Explore further: Trapping single atoms in a uniform fashion

More information: Daniel Barredo et al. Synthetic three-dimensional atomic structures assembled atom by atom, Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0450-2

Abstract
A great challenge in current quantum science and technology research is to realize artificial systems of a large number of individually controlled quantum bits for applications in quantum computing and quantum simulation. Many experimental platforms are being explored, including solid-state systems, such as superconducting circuits1 or quantum dots2, and atomic, molecular and optical systems, such as photons, trapped ions or neutral atoms3,4,5,6,7. The latter offer inherently identical qubits that are well decoupled from the environment and could provide synthetic structures scalable to hundreds of qubits or more8. Quantum-gas microscopes9 allow the realization of two-dimensional regular lattices of hundreds of atoms, and large, fully loaded arrays of about 50 microtraps (or 'optical tweezers') with individual control are already available in one10 and two11 dimensions. Ultimately, however, accessing the third dimension while keeping single-atom control will be required, both for scaling to large numbers and for extending the range of models amenable to quantum simulation. Here we report the assembly of defect-free, arbitrarily shaped three-dimensional arrays, containing up to 72 single atoms. We use holographic methods and fast, programmable moving tweezers to arrange—atom by atom and plane by plane—initially disordered arrays into target structures of almost any geometry. These results present the prospect of quantum simulation with tens of qubits arbitrarily arranged in space and show that realizing systems of hundreds of individually controlled qubits is within reach using current technology.

Related Stories

Trapping single atoms in a uniform fashion

September 28, 2016

Single neutral atoms trapped individually in optical microtraps are incredibly useful tools for studying quantum physics, as the atoms then exist in complete isolation from the environment. Arrays of optical microtraps containing ...

Scientists set traps for atoms with single-particle precision

November 3, 2016

Atoms, photons, and other quantum particles are often capricious and finicky by nature; very rarely at a standstill, they often collide with others of their kind. But if such particles can be individually corralled and controlled ...

Ultra-cold atom transport made simple

July 7, 2014

Techniques for controlling ultra-cold atoms travelling in ring traps currently represent an important research area in physics. A new study gives a proof of principle, confirmed by numerical simulations, of the applicability ...

Recommended for you

Scientists explain how wombats drop cubed poop

November 18, 2018

Wombats, the chubby and beloved, short-legged marsupials native to Australia, are central to a biological mystery in the animal kingdom: How do they produce cube-shaped poop? Patricia Yang, a postdoctoral fellow in mechanical ...

Explaining a fastball's unexpected twist

November 18, 2018

An unexpected twist from a four-seam or a two-seam fastball can make the difference in a baseball team winning or losing the World Series. However, "some explanations regarding the different pitches are flat-out wrong," said ...

Helping Marvel superheroes to breathe

November 18, 2018

Marvel comics superheroes Ant-Man and the Wasp—nom de guerre stars of the eponymous 2018 film—possess the ability to temporarily shrink down to the size of insects, while retaining the mass and strength of their normal ...

Scientists produce 3-D chemical maps of single bacteria

November 16, 2018

Scientists at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II)—a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory—have used ultrabright x-rays to image single bacteria ...

Quantum science turns social

November 15, 2018

Researchers in a lab at Aarhus University have developed a versatile remote gaming interface that allowed external experts as well as hundreds of citizen scientists all over the world to optimize a quantum gas experiment ...

0 comments

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.