Quantum systems under control

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Science  18 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6194, pp. 272-273
DOI: 10.1126/science.1256529

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Controlled quantum systems are actively explored for efficient information processing, simulations of complex quantum systems, and secure quantum communications and metrology. In these areas, quantum devices have the potential to outperform their classical counterparts. However, achieving full control over large systems is difficult because the complex quantum mechanical correlations in large-scale systems are extremely fragile with respect to environmental noise or thermal fluctuations. One attractive approach is to use ensembles of atoms prepared in well-defined quantum states and cooled to temperatures near absolute zero. Ultracold atomic gases have emerged as one of the leading platforms in the study of manybody quantum phenomena. On page 306 of this issue, Kaufman et al. (1) demonstrate a novel twist on this approach with a “bottomup” technique that allows complex quantum systems of ultracold neutral atoms to be put together one atom at a time.