Ion trap may eventually enable mass production of quantum computers

Aug. 1, 2006
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Boulder, CO) have designed and built an electromagnetic trap for ions that could potentially be mass-produced to make quantum computers large enough for practical use.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Boulder, CO) have designed and built an electromagnetic trap for ions that could potentially be mass-produced to make quantum computers large enough for practical use. It is the first functional ion trap in which all electrodes are arranged in a single-layer “chiplike” geometry, which should be much easier to manufacture than previous ion traps with multiple electrode layers.

The structure, fabricated using standard photolithography and metal-deposition techniques, consists of a polished fused-quartz substrate, coated first with a titanium adhesion layer and then with a copper seed layer. Resistors and leads were patterned onto the structure using photolithography, and it was electroplated with gold electrodes. Ions were created in the completed trap by photoionizing thermally evaporated neutral magnesium atoms, and individual laser-cooled magnesium ions were confined in the linear Paul trap about 40 µm above the electrode plane. The NIST scientists reported a heating rate in the device of about 5 motional quanta per millisecond for a trap frequency of 2.83 MHz, sufficiently low to be useful for quantum information processing. Contact David Wineland at[email protected].

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