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Levitation: Classic Magic Trick May Enable Quantum Computing


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Artist's impression of an accelerator cavity.

A new project at the U.S. Department of Energys Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility will levitate a microscopic particle in a superconducting radio-frequency (SRF) cavity, in order to observe the resulting quantum phenomena.

Credit: SciTechDaily

Quantum computing could solve problems that are difficult for traditional computer systems. It may seem like magic. One step toward achieving quantum computing even resembles a magician's trick: levitation. A new project at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility will attempt this trick by levitating a microscopic particle in a superconducting radiofrequency (SRF) cavity to observe quantum phenomena.

Typically at Jefferson Lab and other particle accelerator facilities, SRF cavities enable studies of the atom's nucleus. They do this by accelerating subatomic particles, such as electrons. This project will use the same type of cavity to instead levitate a microscopic particle of metal, between 1 and 100 micrometers in diameter, with the cavity's electric field.

"No one has ever intentionally suspended a particle in an electric field in a vacuum using SRF cavities," said Drew Weisenberger, a principal investigator on this project, as well as Chief Technology Officer and head of the Radiation Detector and Imaging Group in the Experimental Nuclear Physics Division at Jefferson Lab.

From Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory
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