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Development of tools for quantum engineering using individual atoms: optical nanofibers and controlled Rydberg interactions

PhD Defense
December 18, 2014 - 7:30am to 10:00am
Sylvain Ravets

Most platforms that are being developed to build quantum simulators do not satisfy simultaneously all the requirements necessary to implement useful quantum tasks. Robust systems can be constructed by combining the strengths of multiple approaches while hopefully compensating for their weaknesses. This thesis reports on the progress made on two different setups that are being developed toward this goal.

The first part of this thesis focuses on a hybrid system of neutral atoms coupled to superconducting qubits that is under construction at the University of Maryland. Sub-wavelength diameter optical fibers allow confining an ensemble of cold atoms in the evanescent field surrounding the fiber, which makes them ideal for placing atoms near a superconducting surface. We have developed a tapered fiber fabrication apparatus, and measured an optical transmission in excess of 99.95% for the fundamental mode. We have also optimized tapered fibers that can support higher-order optical modes with high transmission, which may be useful for various optical potential geometries.
The second part of this thesis focuses on a system of neutral atoms trapped in arrays of optical tweezers that has been developed at the Institut d’Optique. Placing the atoms in highly excited Rydberg states allows us to obtain strong interatomic interactions. Using two individual atoms, we have characterized the pairwise interactions in the van der Waals and resonant dipole-dipole interaction regimes, providing a direct observation of the coherent nature of the interaction. In a three-atom system, we have finally simulated the dynamics of an elementary spin chain.  
2115 Computer and Space Sciences
College Park, MD 20742