Atom-by-atom assembly of defect-free one-dimensional cold atom arrays

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Science  25 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6315, pp. 1024-1027
DOI: 10.1126/science.aah3752

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Making perfect atomic arrays

Arrays of atoms can be a useful resource for quantum information. However, loading atoms into arrays is typically a stochastic process, which leads to imperfections. Two groups have now performed defect-free assembly of atoms into arrays (see the Perspective by Regal). The researchers first loaded the atoms stochastically and imaged the system. They then shuttled the atoms around to form perfect arrays. Barredo et al. worked with two-dimensional arrays, creating a variety of spatial configurations. Endres et al. manipulated atoms along a line. By further cooling down the atoms and generating interactions among them, the techniques may also find use in quantum simulation.

Science, this issue p. 972, p. 1021; see also p. 1024


The realization of large-scale fully controllable quantum systems is an exciting frontier in modern physical science. We use atom-by-atom assembly to implement a platform for the deterministic preparation of regular one-dimensional arrays of individually controlled cold atoms. In our approach, a measurement and feedback procedure eliminates the entropy associated with probabilistic trap occupation and results in defect-free arrays of more than 50 atoms in less than 400 milliseconds. The technique is based on fast, real-time control of 100 optical tweezers, which we use to arrange atoms in desired geometric patterns and to maintain these configurations by replacing lost atoms with surplus atoms from a reservoir. This bottom-up approach may enable controlled engineering of scalable many-body systems for quantum information processing, quantum simulations, and precision measurements.

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