Amit Jha
Amit Jha
09 Aug 2016

Built-in Optical Chips Could Soon Solve Quantum Computer Fabrication Problems

Quantum Computers are hypothetical computing devices having a greater processing capacity and faster execution speed than ordinary computers. Electronic devices are bound to binary logic - 0 and 1 but quantum computers are governed by the principle of quantum mechanics and consist of Qubits. They can either represent 0 or 1 or a superimposed state of the two simultaneously, one of the reasons behind their efficiency. However, they are still limited to the laboratories due to problems in their miniaturization and fabrication.

An artistic impression of an on-chip ion trapping + optical system

Recently, researchers at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory have found out a way to achieve miniaturization in hardware that is necessary for creating a quantum computer. Their work has been published in the journal Nature- Nanotechnology, where their methodologies are mentioned. Trapping ions with the help of electrodes and electric field allow assigning fixed state to these ions which can be altered by changing the field. These ions constitute the qubits. However, establishing these traps requires a large and complex hardware setup. Incorporating optical laser technology to alter the field have allowed them to prototype an on-chip device to successfully trap these ions.

The on-chip device with built-in optics will not only trap ions, but will guide lasers through them distinctly and will also modify their field intensity during the same process. A new trapping technology, known as surface trap, has been incorporated in this chip system which allows handling more number of ions. The system has been realized on a quartz substrate. Silicon Nitride has been used as wave guides to drive laser light. Electrodes made of niobium have been used with holes in them. Beneath the hole lies diffraction grating which guides the light towards the target ions distinctly. This whole setup, despite being a first step in the realization of the device, is a result of a groundbreaking discovery.

Researchers are now trying to improve the system and will look for more advancements. This has happened, for the first time that the ion trapping and the optical waveguide system are present in the same chip. However, this is mere a start and a lot of in-kind developments are expected to come as the team is now working to move closer towards making quantum computers a reality.

Source: MIT News

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