PerspectivePhysics

A Strongly Driven Spin

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Science  11 Dec 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5959, pp. 1489-1490
DOI: 10.1126/science.1183659

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Summary

Quantum information processing has the potential to open new horizons in fundamental science, communication, and computing. However, a number of experimental challenges must be overcome to realize this potential. Of primary importance is controlled manipulation of a qubit—the elementary building block of quantum information. A qubit is simply any two-level quantum mechanical system. In many solid-state materials, qubits—whether based on spin states, electrostatic charges, or some other property—suffer unwanted coupling with the surrounding environment. Such interactions lead to decoherence and degrade the information. Implementing realistic quantum information processing requires manipulating the two-level system at a rate much faster than decoherence occurs. On page 1520 of this issue, Fuchs et al. (1) take an important step in this direction by strongly driving a single electron spin in diamond. In the process, they surpass the limits of a widely used approximation—the rotating wave approximation (RWA)—and open new avenues for exploring quantum dynamics.