Physics

Enhancing Quantum Coupling

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Science  29 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6042, pp. 501
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6042.501-c

It's almost hard to believe, now that computers and their associated electronics have so thoroughly permeated modern life, that their components were once the stuff of fundamental physics research, the future applications barely envisioned. Such is the current state of quantum computing. An efficient quantum information architecture will be expected to allow the storage, retrieval, manipulation, and transfer of single bits of information around a network of qubits and quantum memories—ideally in a controllable and deterministic way. Proof-of-principle experiments have shown that such information encoded in a single photon, for example, can be stored on a single trapped atom or ion. However, the coupling between the ion or atom and the photon is rather weak, so the process occurs with rather low probability. Lamata et al. provide a possible solution that should enhance the coupling between the single ion and the single photon. They suggest that a linear chain of ions trapped in a cavity would act as an effective antenna for an incoming photon and that the state of the photon would be mapped across the entire chain. They include another step in the process that involves the optical manipulation of the linear chain of ions so that the collective excitation is then focused onto a single ion. The process is reversible, so that the information encoded in the internal state of the ion can be mapped onto the linear chain and then encoded onto a photon exiting the cavity.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 030501 (2011).

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