In a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists at the University of Bath described a new metal vapor stabilizing technique that may give quantum computing a significant boost.
The new method uses gold nanoparticles to stabilize alkali metal vapor density, allowing access to electrons from elements such as sodium, potassium, and lithium. The individual electrons can be utilized in performing logical operations or in storing data for quantum computers.
Ventsislav Valev, a professor from University of Bath’s Department of Physics, was quoted as saying:
“We are very excited by this discovery because it has so many applications in current and future technologies! It would be useful in atomic cooling, in atomic clocks, in magnetometry and in ultra-high-resolution spectroscopy.”
The Alkali Metal Vapor Stabilizing Technique
The potential of alkali metal vapor has been known for years. However, one significant hurdle that gets in the way of scientists is how to control the vapor pressure within an enclosed space like an optical fiber.
The vapor must be kept from sticking to the sides of enclosed spaces for it to retain its quantum properties. While it is possible, current methods which include heating the vapor containers directly, are reportedly slow, costly, and not scalable.
As a solution, the UB researchers together with their colleague from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences developed a new metal vapor stabilizing technique to control the vapor pressure.
The method requires coating the interior of the vapor containers with gold nanoparticles which are 300,000 times tinier than a pinhead.
The coated containers are then illuminated with a green laser which allows the nanoscopic gold particles to absorb the light and convert it to heat. The process warms the vapor and disperses them within the container over 1,000 times faster than any other technique to date.
Furthermore, the gold nanoparticles allow the alkali metal atoms to preserve their quantum properties even after bouncing off the particles. Valev added:
“Our coating allows fast and reproducible external control of the vapour density and related optical depth, crucial for quantum optics in these confined geometries.”
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