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Latest News and Research

Chilled atoms enable deeper understanding of simple chemistry
Researchers use new technique to reveal quantum intricacies of molecule creation.

The field of chemistry often conjures up images of boiling liquids and explosions. But underneath all that eye-catching action is an invisible quantum world where atoms and molecules are constantly rearranging, colliding, and combining to form different molecules.This part of chemistry is rarely seen, but even when scientists do pull back the curtain and expose quantum behavior, the task of understanding chemical reactions at their most fundamental level remains daunting. There are simply too many properties to keep track of for the countless atoms and molecules involved in a reaction. In fact, scientists struggle to keep track of everything even... Continue Reading

Ion qubits offer early glimpse of quantum error detection

Computers based on quantum physics promise to solve certain problems much faster than their conventional counterparts. By utilizing qubits—which can have more than just the two values of ordinary bits—quantum computers of the future could perform complex simulations and may solve difficult problems in chemistry, optimization and pattern-recognition.But building a large quantum computer—one with thousands or millions of qubits—is hard because qubits are very fragile. Small interactions with the environment can introduce errors and lead to failures. Detecting these errors is not straightforward, since quantum measurements are a form of interaction and therefore also disrupt quantum states. Quantum physics presents... Continue Reading

Congressional hearing highlights need for quantum technology initiative

On October 24, 2017, two Fellows of the Joint Quantum Institute and the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science were among those that testified during a joint congressional committee hearing on the topic of American Leadership in Quantum Technology.Carl Williams and Christopher Monroe attended as expert panelists, reading prepared statements and answering questions from committee members. Williams, who is also the deputy director of the Physical Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), provided testimony about quantum research at NIST. Monroe—a Distinguished University Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland (UMD) and... Continue Reading

The Nobel Prize: A LIGO Q&A
A little more than a hundred years ago, Albert Einstein worked out a consequence of his new theory of gravity: Much like waves traveling through water, ripples can undulate through space and time, distorting the fabric of the universe itself. Today, Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for decades of work that culminated in the detection of gravitational waves in 2015—and several times since—by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Emily and Chris sat down with UMD physics professor Peter Shawhan, a member of the LIGO collaboration, to learn... Continue Reading
Turning ions into quantum cats
A new technique spreads single-ion "cat states" 300 nanometers apart.

In Schrödinger's famous thought experiment, a cat seems to be both dead and alive—an idea that strains credulity. These days, cats still don't act this way, but physicists now regularly create analogues of Schrödinger's cat in the lab by smearing the microscopic quantum world over longer and longer distances.
Such "cat states" have found many homes, promising more sensitive quantum measurements and acting as the basis for quantum error-correcting codes—a necessary component for future error-prone quantum computers.With these goals in mind, some researchers are eager to create better cat states with single ions. But, so far, standard techniques have imposed limits... Continue Reading

Sensing atoms caught in ripples of light

Optical fibers are ubiquitous, carrying light wherever it is needed. These glass tunnels are the high-speed railway of information transit, moving data at incredible speeds over tremendous distances. Fibers are also thin and flexible, so they can be immersed in many different environments, including the human body, where they are employed for illumination and imaging.Physicists use fibers, too, particularly those who study atomic physics and quantum information science. Aside from shuttling laser light around, fibers can be used to create light traps for super-chilled atoms. Captured atoms can interact more strongly with light, much more so than if they were moving... Continue Reading

UMD to host 200 scientists for quantum error correction conference

Nearly 200 scientists and theorists from around the world will descend on the University of Maryland campus next week for the 4th International Conference on Quantum Error Correction (QEC17), the world’s premier scientific meeting focused on the protection of quantum computers from their hostile surroundings.This year’s conference, which will be held Sept. 11–15, is organized by researchers from the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS) and Georgia Tech.Quantum error correction is a suite of techniques for maintaining stable qubits, the quantum computer analog of the bits in ordinary computers. Similar to the way that conventional error correction defends against... Continue Reading

Long-range interactions leave a quantum reminder

Given enough time, a forgotten cup of coffee will lose its appeal and cool to room temperature. One way of telling this tepid tale involves a stupendous number of coffee molecules colliding like billiard balls with themselves and colder molecules in the air above. Those constant collisions siphon energy away from the coffee, bit by bit, in a process that physicists call thermalization.But this story doesn’t mention quantum physics, and scientists think that thermalization must ultimately have a precursor at the quantum level. Recently, scientists have sketched out some of the ways that small quantum systems thermalize, sometimes even when... Continue Reading

Latest News and Research

  • Chilled atoms enable deeper understanding of simple chemistry
    Researchers use new technique to reveal quantum intricacies of molecule creation.

    The field of chemistry often conjures up images of boiling liquids and explosions. But underneath all that eye-catching action is an invisible quantum world where atoms and molecules are constantly rearranging, colliding, and combining to form different molecules.This part of chemistry is rarely seen, but even when scientists do pull back the curtain and expose quantum behavior, the task of... Continue Reading

  • Ion qubits offer early glimpse of quantum error detection

    Computers based on quantum physics promise to solve certain problems much faster than their conventional counterparts. By utilizing qubits—which can have more than just the two values of ordinary bits—quantum computers of the future could perform complex simulations and may solve difficult problems in chemistry, optimization and pattern-recognition.But building a large quantum computer—one... Continue Reading

  • Congressional hearing highlights need for quantum technology initiative

    On October 24, 2017, two Fellows of the Joint Quantum Institute and the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science were among those that testified during a joint congressional committee... Continue Reading

  • The Nobel Prize: A LIGO Q&A
    A little more than a hundred years ago, Albert Einstein worked out a consequence of his new theory of gravity: Much like waves traveling through water, ripples can undulate through space and time, distorting the fabric of the universe itself. Today, Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for decades of work that culminated in the detection... Continue Reading
  • Turning ions into quantum cats
    A new technique spreads single-ion "cat states" 300 nanometers apart.

    In Schrödinger's famous thought experiment, a cat seems to be both dead and alive—an idea that strains credulity. These days, cats still don't act this way, but physicists now regularly create analogues of Schrödinger's cat in the lab by smearing the microscopic quantum world over longer and longer distances.
Such "cat states" have found many homes, promising more sensitive quantum... Continue Reading

  • Sensing atoms caught in ripples of light

    Optical fibers are ubiquitous, carrying light wherever it is needed. These glass tunnels are the high-speed railway of information transit, moving data at incredible speeds over tremendous distances. Fibers are also thin and flexible, so they can be immersed in many different environments, including the human body, where they are employed for illumination and imaging.Physicists use fibers, too... Continue Reading

  • UMD to host 200 scientists for quantum error correction conference

    Nearly 200 scientists and theorists from around the world will descend on the University of Maryland campus next week for the 4th International Conference on Quantum Error Correction (QEC17), the world’s premier scientific meeting focused on the protection of quantum computers from their hostile surroundings.This year’s conference, which will be held... Continue Reading

  • Long-range interactions leave a quantum reminder

    Given enough time, a forgotten cup of coffee will lose its appeal and cool to room temperature. One way of telling this tepid tale involves a stupendous number of coffee molecules colliding like billiard balls with themselves and colder molecules in the air above. Those constant collisions siphon energy away from the coffee, bit by bit, in a process that physicists call thermalization.But this... Continue Reading

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