Patterned Loading of Atoms into an Optical Lattice
Diffraction pattern showing the contrast between atoms coherently loading into every third lattice site, versus every lattice site.
Quantum systems, such as individual atoms, can be used as bits of information. The processing of such information, governed by the rules of quantum mechanics, is called quantum computing. There is currently great interest in realizing a quantum computer, which is predicted to require exponentially less effort than a classical computer to solve certain large-scale problems, such as factoring large numbers.
We are developing the tools for a prototype processor for quantum information, using neutral atoms trapped in an optical lattice as the quantum information register. In an optical lattice, atoms are trapped in the periodic intensity pattern formed from the interference of intersecting laser beams.
In order to achieve the best performance for quantum information processing, we would like atoms tightly confined, which can be achieved with a short-period optical lattice. However, to initialize and read out the quantum register, we would like atoms in sites spaced more than an optical wavelength apart. We have taken a major step towards achieving this goal by loading every third site of a one-dimensional, short-period optical lattice with atoms from a rubidium Bose-Einstein condensate.
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