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WIU Physics Professor Breaks New Ground in Quantum Computing Research

January 27, 2006

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MACOMB, IL - - Western Illinois University Associate Physics Professor James Rabchuk has helped carry out ground-breaking research in trapped ion quantum computing with the research group of Professor Chris Monroe from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Rabchuk achieved this result while working with the group during his Spring 2005 sabbatical leave from WIU.

The research article and an accompanying image have been published as the cover story in Applied Physics Letters (January 17, 2006).

The ion used in the trap was of the element Cadmium (Cd). The trap itself was made of three thin layers of gold-plated electrodes, with a T-shaped channel cut out to form the ion trapping region, Rabchuk explained. The trap is operated in a high vacuum environment, to prevent collisions with other atoms from knocking the ion out of the trap. A radio-frequency (~50 mega hertz) voltage is applied to the central layer, which serves to trap single ions in the channel. Static voltages applied to the top and bottom layers can keep the ion in a single location within the channel. If the top and bottom voltages are changed in the proper sequence, the ion can be moved from place to place in the trap channel.

“My contribution was to develop computer simulations that allowed us to determine the appropriate sequence of electrode voltages that ‘shuttled’ the ion around the corner of the T trap, the first time it has been done in a controllable manner,” Rabchuk said.

“This work is significant because it is a big step leading toward the production of a workable ion trap that allows for controlled interactions between a large number of ions in an arbitrary sequence, potentially leading to the development of a ‘quantum computer,” he added.

Jacob Burress, a 2005 Western physics alumnus who is currently studying for a Ph.D. at the University of Missouri-Columbia, also contributed to the work done for this project, Rabchuk said.

Michigan research site and journal link

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