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November 7, 2017 | People News

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 a co-founder and chief scientist at UMD-based startup IonQ, Inc—advocated for a National Quantum Initiative in his testimony. Both shared their perspectives on the path toward industry’s adoption of this emerging new technology.
October 3, 2017 | Podcast

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 more about gravitational waves and hear a sliver of the story behind this year's Nobel Prize. This episode of Relatively Certain was produced by Chris Cesare and Emily Edwards. It features music by Dave Depper. Relatively Certain is a production of the Joint Quantum Institute, a research partnership between the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and you can find it on iTunes, Google Play or Soundcloud.
September 27, 2017 | PFC | Research News

Turning ions into quantum cats

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 on how far their quantum nature could spread.
September 26, 2017 | PFC | Research News

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 freely. This rather artificial environment can be used to explore fundamental physics questions, such as how a single particle of light interacts with a single atom. But it may also assist with developing future hybrid atom-optical technologies.
September 8, 2017 | Research News

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 corrupted bits, quantum error correction protects qubits by deploying redundancy: If you want to defend one qubit, you should spread its information across many qubits.
September 1, 2017 | PFC | Research News

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 they are almost completely isolated.Last week, in Science Advances, a team of researchers from JQI and Indiana University reported finding a new kind of effect on the road to thermalization—one in which a chain of up to 22 trapped ions, all initially with their quantum spins aligned, can retain a memory of a flipped spin long after it begins to roam through the chain.Unlike previous results in which imperfections trapped such flips near their starting spot, the memory in this experiment comes from the long-range communication of the ions and confirms a theoretical prediction by two of the paper’s authors.
August 2, 2017 | Research News

Simulating the quantum world with electron traps

Quantum behavior plays a crucial role in novel and emergent material properties, such as superconductivity and magnetism. Unfortunately, it is still impossible to calculate the underlying quantum behavior, let alone fully understand it. Scientists of QuTech, the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience in Delft and TNO, in collaboration with ETH Zurich and the University of Maryland, have now succeeded in building an "artificial material" that mimics this type of quantum behavior on a small scale. In doing so, they have laid the foundations for new insights and potential applications. Their work is published today in Nature.
July 31, 2017 | Podcast

Long live MATHUSLA

More than 300 feet underground, looping underneath both France and Switzerland on the outskirts of Geneva, a 16-mile-long ring called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) smashes protons together at nearly the speed of light. Sifting through the wreckage, scientists have made some profound discoveries about the fundamental nature of our universe. But what if all that chaos underground is shrouding subtle hints of new physics? David Curtin, a postdoctoral researcher at the Maryland Center for Fundamental Physics here at UMD, has an idea for a detector that could be built at the surface—far away from the noise and shrapnel of the main LHC experiments. The project, which he and his collaborators call MATHUSLA, may resolve some of the mysteries that are lingering behind our best theories. This episode of Relatively Certain was produced by Chris Cesare, Emily Edwards, Sean Kelley and Kate Delossantos. It features music by Dave Depper, Podington Bear, Broke for Free, Chris Zabriskie and the LHCsound project. Relatively Certain is a production of the Joint Quantum Institute, a research partnership between the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and you can find it on iTunes, Google Play or Soundcloud.
July 12, 2017 | PFC | Research News

Atomic cousins team up in early quantum networking node

Large-scale quantum computers, which are an active pursuit of many university labs and tech giants, remain years away. But that hasn’t stopped some scientists from thinking ahead, to a time when quantum computers might be linked together in a network or a single quantum computer might be split up across many interconnected nodes.A group of physicists at the University of Maryland, working with JQI Fellow Christopher Monroe, are pursuing the second goal, attempting to wire up isolated modules of trapped atomic ions with light. They imagine many modules, each with a hundred or so ions, linked together to form a quantum computer that is inherently scalable: If you want a bigger computer, simply add more modules to the mix.In a paper published recently in Physical Review Letters, Monroe and his collaborators reported on putting together many of the pieces needed to create such a module. It includes two different species of ions: an ytterbium ion for storing information and a barium ion for generating the light that communicates with other nodes.This dual-species approach isolates the storage and communication tasks of a network node. With a single species, manipulating the communication ion with a laser could easily corrupt the storage ion. In several experiments, the researchers demonstrated that they could successfully isolate the two ions from each other, transfer information between them and capture light generated by both ions. 
July 10, 2017 | Podcast

Labs IRL: Boxing up atomic ions

What makes a university physics lab tick? Sean Kelley grabs a mic and heads to a lab that's trying to build an early quantum computer out of atomic ions. Marko Cetina and Kai Hudek, two research scientsts at the University of Maryland who run the lab, explain what it takes to keep things from burning down and muse about the future of quantum computers. This is the first installment of Labs in Real Life—Labs IRL, for short—a recurring segment on Relatively Certain that will explore what it's actually like to work in a university lab. (The work in this lab is supported by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) LogiQ Program through the U.S. Army Research Office.) This episode of Relatively Certain was produced by Sean Kelley, Emily Edwards and Chris Cesare. It features music by Dave Depper, dustmotes and Podington Bear. Relatively Certain is a production of the Joint Quantum Institute, a research partnership between the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and you can find it on iTunes, Google Play or Soundcloud.

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