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A New Option for Neutral-Atom Quantum Computing

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JILA's Adam Kaufman thinks physicists eventually will be able to exploit the varied energy structures of different atoms to implement quantum computers that are scalable and can be used in diverse applications, such as metrology.

Credit: Kaufman Group/S. Burrows/JILA

According to Jeff Thompson, a physicist at Princeton University, now is an exciting time for quantum computing, as many different quantum-computing platforms have reached large system sizes and can perform high-fidelity operations. Thompson's claim is backed up by the diversity of systems that have recently achieved significant milestones, such as quantum computers based on superconducting circuits, optical interferometers, trapped ions, and neutral atoms (see Viewpoint: Quantum Leap for Quantum Primacy, Synopsis: The Smallest Quantum Computer Yet, and Synopsis: Neutral-Atom Quantum Computers Are Back in the Race). Now, Thompson and his colleagues, and Adam Kaufman at JILA in Colorado and his colleagues, have demonstrated a new kind of qubit for neutral-atom quantum computers. The qubit's properties allow it to robustly store and manipulate quantum information [1, 2].

Neutral-atom qubits store information in their spin states. So far, most neutral-atom experiments have used alkali metals, for which the necessary trapping and cooling techniques are highly advanced. Alkali-metal atoms have a drawback, however: the electronic spin states used to store quantum information can be corrupted by the light field used for trapping the atoms. As an alternative, physicists have experimented with alkaline-earth atoms, which can store information more robustly in their nuclear spin states. This possibility has been demonstrated in strontium-87 ( 87Sr), but the multiple spin states of this isotope's large nuclear spin make it difficult to use to implement a simple two-level qubit.

From Physics
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