Physics

Periodic Ions

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Science  01 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6158, pp. 537
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6158.537-b

Cold gases of both charged and neutral atoms have been used to simulate more complex quantum systems. Whereas neutral atoms are relatively easy to trap in optical lattices (which mimic the periodic potentials found in solids), ions present a bigger challenge because stray electric fields may cause them to escape the trap. Thus, the typical trapping time of an ion in an optical lattice has been on the order of 10 to 100 µs. Karpa et al. trapped an ion in a combined electrostatic and one-dimensional optical lattice potential and cooled it by manipulating its energy levels with an external magnetic field and by using optical pumping. The ion was cooled to the lowest vibrational level of the lattice potential; similar results were obtained with a three-ion system. By periodically driving an ion and measuring its position, the authors found that it remained localized to a single lattice site for up to 10 ms: four orders of magnitude longer than the vibrational period. With an increase in the number of trapped ions, it is expected that the technique will enable the quantum simulation of many-body systems with long-range interactions.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 163002 (2013).

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