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UK researchers pave way to scalable quantum computing with 3D ion trap array

July 25, 2012 // Nick Flaherty

UK researchers pave way to scalable quantum computing with 3D ion trap array

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK have demonstrated for the first time a monolithic 3D ion microtrap array which could be scaled up to handle several tens of ion-based quantum bits (qubits).


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The research, published in Nature Nanotechnology, shows how itcan be embedded in a semiconductor chip and used to confine individual ions at the nanoscale.
"We managed to produce an essential device or tool, which is critical for state of the art research and development in quantum technologies," said Alastair Sinclair, Principal Scientist at NPL. "This could be the basis of a future atomic clock device, with relevance for location, timing, navigation services or even the basis of a future quantum processor chip based on trapped ions, leading to a quantum computer and a quantum information network."
As the UK's National Measurement Institute, NPL is investigating how exotic quantum states of matter can be used to make high precision measurements, but the research can be used in quantum computation, where entangled qubits are used to execute powerful quantum algorithms. As an example, factorisation of large numbers by a quantum algorithm is dramatically faster than with a classical algorithm.
Scalable ion traps consisting of a 2D array of electrodes have been developed, however 3D trap geometries can provide a superior potential for confining the ions. Creating a successful scalable 3D ion trapping device is based on maintaining two qualities the ability to scale the device to accommodate increasing numbers of atomic particles, whilst preserving the trapping potential which enables precise control of ions at the atomic level. Previous research resulted in compromising at least one of these factors, largely due to limitations in the manufacturing processes.
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