Scientists Played Catch With Atoms By Breaking The Way

Scientists Played Catch With Atoms By Breaking The Way
Scientists Played Catch With Atoms By Breaking The Way

Nothing compares to the catch game; Tossing a baseball back and forth ensures simple, low-effort fun. But when lasers and icy atoms are involved, it's a challenge.

In a new study, scientists set up a mini baseball game in which laser beams launch and catch atoms. According to a study recently published in the journal Optica, this is the first instance where laser-powered "optical traps" have successfully ejected and captured atoms. These devices function somewhat like a Star Wars lightsaber to manipulate tiny particles. Researchers found that speedball atoms travel 4,2 micrometers at 65 centimeters per second. By comparison, the fastest spider can crawl up to about 50 centimeters per second. In contrast, the fastest spider can crawl up to about 50 centimeters per second.

With the potential to run models thousands of times faster than existing machines, it could one day pave the way for innovations such as quantum computers, life-saving new drugs, intelligent artificial intelligence and advanced cybersecurity that could be powered by this new mechanism.

Optical traps, in particular, can quickly rearrange qubits, the quantum mechanical version of bits that carry chunks of information seen in normal computers.

"There are possibilities for moving qubits around to enable more efficient and faster quantum computing," Jaewook Ahn, a physicist at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and co-author of the new study, said in a statement.

This futuristic technology, which uses quantum mechanics to store data, is still being developed by scientists. If things go well, these extravagant machines could solve problems that baffle even today's supercomputers – at much faster speeds.

Today's common computers work by encoding information in bits that represent states in which electrical signals are turned "on" or "off" using combinations of 1s and 0s. Bits represent states when electrical impulses are turned on or off. Meanwhile, a quantum machine stores this information in qubits, which can be produced from tiny particles that fit inside atoms, including electrons or photons.

Superposition is a peculiar quantum property that allows qubits to represent 0 and 1 simultaneously. This indicates that one of these devices can practically replace four standard computers. Additionally, a computer's computing power increases exponentially as more qubits are added.

Possibilities for quantum computer systems include superconducting electrical circuits and using electromagnetic fields to trap ions. (IBM company is currently working on this).

Another type of computation, known as neutral atom computation, uses intense laser beams to suspend and control atoms to create qubits.

Qubits are difficult in practice; To process data correctly, they often need to be placed in precisely spaced arrays, and gaps often arise when researchers try to carefully place atoms in a device. But it is difficult to precisely move individual atoms to close these gaps.

One of the most effective quantum computing platforms is arrays of neutral atoms trapped in focused laser beams, according to physicist Brian Leeds DeMarco of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This architecture has a handicap in effectively generating a defect-free array with no missing atoms.

Instead of shifting every atom in an array at once, the excellent technique can handle each defect individually. According to physicist Robert Niffenegger, the latter is "a time-consuming process right now".

Atomic Traps and Optical Traps

They started by using an 800-nanometer laser to set up optical traps and freeze rubidium metal atoms to near absolute zero. They held the atom in place, accelerated the trap, closed it, and launched it like a catapult to "throw" the atom. The atom is then caught by another laser trap, which slows down to stop the atom in place.

In the most recent study, scientists claimed that their approach was 94% successful. But Ahn suggests that with "a lower atomic temperature and more stable laser treatments," this technique can achieve "near 100 percent" accuracy.

Ahn and his colleagues are not the first scientists to use optical traps to solve this problem. Past research has attempted to guide atoms between regions with a laser; however, this new method differs in that it allows atoms to rise on their own, which can be faster and more effective.

While scientists agree that this development could potentially speed up quantum computing, it could also have downsides. Niffenegger points out that this new method may not work as well as similar techniques applied to ions: A study published last month, according to Niffenegger, showed that electromagnetic fields can remove defects by moving ions at higher speeds and longer distances through trapped ion designs for quantum computers.

DeMarco shares this skepticism. He says he isn't sure whether this approach will be used by other researchers in the region or businesses dealing with neutral atom quantum computing. “Compared to standard techniques that involve dynamic rearrangement, the probability of success of throwing and catching atoms is relatively low.”

DeMarco continues: “Furthermore, compared to other strategies, this new technique introduces a lot of additional technical complexity.”

But Ahn admits that this work is still in the early stages and won't hit computers anytime soon.

According to Ahn, since qubits can be dynamically rearranged during quantum computing, shifting them could make quantum computing more efficient and faster. However, at the moment this is "too much of a claim", so we continue to believe that our approach could be more efficient and faster for qubit preparation (not for direct quantum computing).


Günceleme: 23/03/2023 22:39

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