Behind sensors, secure data transmission, and some computers, scientists used quantum physics. But there was an obstacle in finding a way to control and couple enough quantum systems.
Researchers at the TU Wien and Harvard University found a different way to transfer quantum information. They want to use small mechanical vibrations. Professor Peter Rabl from TU Wien explains their approach:
“We are testing tiny diamonds with built-in silicon atoms—these quantum systems are particularly promising. Normally, diamonds are made exclusively of carbon, but adding silicon atoms in certain places creates defects in the crystal lattice where quantum information can be stored.”
Peter Rabl’s team partnered with a team from Harvard University and found a way to transfer quantum information. He explained that they could achieve the targeted coupling of the quanta inside the diamond. They built them one by one, each measuring only a few micrometers in length, looking like a tiny rod. Each rod works like a tuning fork and vibrates. But these vibrations are very small and can only be described through quantum theory. The vibrations create a quantum-mechanical link between silicon atoms. Peter Rabl added that:
“Light is made from photons, the quantum of light. In the same way, mechanical vibrations or sound waves can also be described in a quantum-mechanical manner. They are composed of phonons—the smallest possible units of mechanical vibration.”
Photons – the Enemy of Quantum Information, Now Controlled to Be Used
Researchers could turn on and off the silicon atoms with microwaves. The process will create an entanglement of the silicon defects and allow the transfer of quantum information:
“Usually you would expect the phonons to be absorbed somewhere, or to come into contact with the environment and thus lose their quantum mechanical properties. Phonons are the enemy of quantum information, so to speak. But with our calculations, we were able to show that, when controlled appropriately using microwaves, the phonons are, in fact, useable for technical applications.”
Peter explains that the discovery will be used in technological applications, but they will have to “carry out complicated computing operations” to connect enough silicon atoms, but it’s a new step in developing scalable quantum technology.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere