The birth of a unique analog quantum processor

The birth of a unique analog quantum processor

Technology News |
By Wisse Hettinga

ICFO researchers build QUIONE, a quantum simulator capable of observing individual atoms in a strontium quantum gas

From the ICFO press release:

Quantum physics needs high-precision sensing techniques to delve deeper into the microscopic properties of materials. From the analog quantum processors that have emerged recently, the so-called quantum-gas microscopes have proven to be powerful tools for understanding quantum systems at the atomic level. These devices produce images of quantum gases with very high resolution: they allow individual atoms to be detected.

Now, ICFO researchers (Barcelona, Spain) Sandra Buob, Jonatan Höschele, Dr. Vasiliy Makhalov and Dr. Antonio Rubio-Abadal, led by ICREA Professor at ICFO Leticia Tarruell, explain how they built their own quantum-gas microscope, named QUIONE after the Greek goddess of snow. The group’s quantum-gas microscope is the only one imaging individual atoms of strontium quantum gases in the world, as well as the first of its kind in Spain.

Beyond the impactful images in which individual atoms can be distinguished, the goal of QUIONE is quantum simulation. As ICREA Prof. Leticia Tarruell explains: “Quantum simulation can be used to boil down very complicated systems into simpler models to then understand open questions that current computers cannot answer, such as why some materials conduct electricity without any losses even at relatively high temperatures”. The research of the group at ICFO in this area has received support at national level (award from the Royal Spanish Society of Physics, and projects and grants from the BBVA Foundation, Ramón Areces Foundation, La Caixa Foundation and Cellex Foundation) and European level (including an ERC project).

The singularity of this experiment lies in the fact that they have managed to bring the strontium gas to the quantum regime, place it in an optical lattice where the atoms could interact by collisions and then apply the single atom imaging techniques. These three ingredients altogether make ICFO’s strontium quantum-gas microscope unique in its kind.


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