Research Article

Propagating phonons coupled to an artificial atom

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Science  10 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6206, pp. 207-211
DOI: 10.1126/science.1257219

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Quantum information can be stored in micromechanical resonators, encoded as quanta of vibration known as phonons. The vibrational motion is then restricted to the stationary eigenmodes of the resonator, which thus serves as local storage for phonons. In contrast, we couple propagating phonons to an artificial atom in the quantum regime and reproduce findings from quantum optics, with sound taking over the role of light. Our results highlight the similarities between phonons and photons but also point to new opportunities arising from the characteristic features of quantum mechanical sound. The low propagation speed of phonons should enable new dynamic schemes for processing quantum information, and the short wavelength allows regimes of atomic physics to be explored that cannot be reached in photonic systems.

A sound proposition for quantum communication

Quantum computers exploit the quantum-mechanical properties of materials to store and manipulate information stored in the quantum states of atoms or artificial atoms. Although there are a number of quantum platforms under investigation already, Gustafsson et al. present another, based on the propagation of sound waves on the surface of a crystal (see the Perspective by Ruskov and Tahan). The ability to tune the system and the slow propagation speeds of the acoustic waves offer new opportunities to control and process quantum information.

Science, this issue p. 207; see also p. 165

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