Light used to detect quantum information stored in 100,000 nuclear quantum bits

  Quantum particles  Credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Researchers have found a way to use light and a single electron to communicate with a cloud of quantum bits and sense their behaviour, making it possible to detect a single quantum bit in a dense cloud.

The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, were able to inject a ‘needle’ of highly fragile quantum information in a ‘haystack’ of 100,000 nuclei. Using lasers to control an electron, the researchers could then use that electron to control the behaviour of the haystack, making it easier to find the needle. They were able to detect the ‘needle’ with a precision of 1.9 parts per million: high enough to detect a single quantum bit in this large ensemble.

The technique makes it possible to send highly fragile quantum information optically to a nuclear system for storage, and to verify its imprint with minimal disturbance, an important step in the development of a quantum internet based on quantum light sources. The results are reported in the journal Nature Physics.

The first quantum computers – which will harness the strange behaviour of subatomic particles to far outperform even the most powerful supercomputers – are on the horizon. However, leveraging their full potential will require a way to network them: a quantum internet. Channels of light that transmit quantum information are promising candidates for a quantum internet, and currently there is no better quantum light source than the semiconductor quantum dot: tiny crystals that are essentially artificial atoms.

However, one thing stands in the way of quantum dots and a quantum internet: the ability to store quantum information temporarily at staging posts along the network.

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Image: Quantum particles

Credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge


The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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