Quantum Computer Researchers Store "Sub Zero" Light Vacuum
March 7, 2008 9:31 PM
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A cavity containing a squeezed vacuum, developed at the California Institute of Tech in separate research. The University of Calgary and Tokyo Institute of Technology research uses a similar squeezed vaccum to store "less than nothing".
(Source: California Institute of Technology)
"Less than nothing" is the new zero
The world of quantum mechanics is filled with outlandish physical phenomena -- including everything from
to teleportation. Scientists have sought, in recent years, to
exploit these phenomena
to create the
ultimate computing machine
. Such a computer, which would put even Intel or
IBM's mightiest system
to shame, holds the promise to solve certain types of very difficult, but very important problems.
Scientists have made large advances including creating
cables for quantum computers
quantum encryption techniques
, and the development of the
first commercial quantum computer by D-Wave
, co-developed by NASA. Much of the research into quantum computing involves using photons to store and convey information inside advanced computer systems. However, light on an atomic scale behaves rather "spooky."
On a silicon transistor scale, for the most part "on" or 1 means charged, and "off" or 0 means no charge. On a quantum scale, on still means a charge, but "off" or absence of light still produces a lesser amount of atomic noise. In other words, even if a photon is turned off, the quantum computer will still read a small amount of noise, disrupting measurements.
Scientists, after puzzling over this complex problem have come up with an outlandish solution -- creating a "squeezed vacuum" a space which has less than nothing, less noise than a space with no light. Scientists managed to store and retrieve this "perfect dark" quantum zero. The special vacuum is created by a laser beam directed through special crystals. Squeezed vacuums have previously been created but not stored. Typical uses are gravity wave detection.
Teams of physicists at the University of Calgary and the Tokyo Institute of Technology
independently demonstrated that a squeezed vacuum can be stored
in a collection of rubidium atoms and retrieved when necessary. The work appears in today's edition of the physics journal
Physical Review Letters
. In it the researchers detail how they verified that the space remained squeezed when retrieved, compared to no light.
Alexander Lvovsky, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Canada Research Chair and leader of the University of Calgary's Quantum Information Technology research group, stated, "Memory for light has been a big challenge in physics for many years and I am very pleased we have been able to bring it one step further. It is important not only for quantum computers, but may also provide new ways to make unbreakable codes for transmitting sensitive information."
The team's research followed Harvard-Smithsonian scientists' 2001 work that slowed light to a stop and physicist Alexander Kuzmich of the Georgia Institute of Technology's work, which led to a successful 2006 effort to store and retrieve a photon. Kuzmich was enthusiastic about the new developments and said that the ability to squeeze space closer to an absolute zero in terms of noise promises to significantly aid in the development of quantum networks. He marveled at the work and said of the progress, "It's a real technical achievement."
Lvovsky’s team next hopes to develop storage methods for more complex forms of light, such as entangled light, which can lead to exotic new uses and improvements in quantum computing.
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RE: Some things need to be clarified...
3/10/2008 1:40:32 PM
I think you are failing to grasp what they are claiming to have done completely.
I do not think they have achieved absolute zero per say in the purest definition.
Per his article here:
It mentions exhibits up to "0.21+-0.04 dB of squeezing"
To me this tells me there is still a MINUTE amount of movement still present, albeit almost imperceptibly small, it still exists. To call it absolutely zero in the purest sense might be incorrect, but I think they were trying to get the point across in an incorrect manner.
Granted, the article I listed above which was mentioned earlier in this thread, might not pertain to exactly the same as the headline, I think it nails down closer as to which they have achieved.
I've read many reports of a laser being used to isolate atomic structure and perhaps slow vibration to a crawl, but he side effect of that itself would be laser radiation which in turn would create heat externally which itself is vibration. So as you see, I think with this technique as with others there must be some form of external response as a result of the stimulus to achieve the near perfect state.
I don't think it was a perfect state though.
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