Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quantum ground state and single-phonon control of a mechanical resonator

A. D. O’Connell, M. Hofheinz, M. Ansmann, Radoslaw C. Bialczak, M. Lenander, Erik Lucero, M. Neeley, D. Sank, H. Wang, M. Weides, J. Wenner, John M. Martinis & A. N. Cleland

Quantum mechanics provides a highly accurate description of a wide variety of physical systems. However, a demonstration that quantum mechanics applies equally to macroscopic mechanical systems has been a long-standing challenge, hindered by the difficulty of cooling a mechanical mode to its quantum ground state. The temperatures required are typically far below those attainable with standard cryogenic methods, so significant effort has been devoted to developing alternative cooling techniques. Once in the ground state, quantum-limited measurements must then be demonstrated. Here, using conventional cryogenic refrigeration, we show that we can cool a mechanical mode to its quantum ground state by using a microwave-frequency mechanical oscillator—a ‘quantum drum’—coupled to a quantum bit, which is used to measure the quantum state of the resonator. We further show that we can controllably create single quantum excitations (phonons) in the resonator, thus taking the first steps to complete quantum control of a mechanical system.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Efficient Measurement of Quantum Dynamics via Compressive Sensing

A. Shabani, R. L. Kosut, M. Mohseni, H. Rabitz, M. A. Broome, M. P. Almeida, A. Fedrizzi, and A. G. White

The resources required to characterize the dynamics of engineered quantum systems—such as quantum computers and quantum sensors—grow exponentially with system size. Here we adapt techniques from compressive sensing to exponentially reduce the experimental configurations required for quantum process tomography. Our method is applicable to processes that are nearly sparse in a certain basis and can be implemented using only single-body preparations and measurements. We perform efficient, high-fidelity estimation of process matrices of a photonic two-qubit logic gate. The database is obtained under various decoherence strengths. Our technique is both accurate and noise robust, thus removing a key roadblock to the development and scaling of quantum technologies.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Making optical atomic clocks more stable with 10^−16-level laser stabilization

Y. Y. Jiang, A. D. Ludlow, N. D. Lemke, R. W. Fox, J. A. Sherman, L.-S. Ma & C. W. Oates

The superb precision of an atomic clock is derived from its stability. Atomic clocks based on optical (rather than microwave) frequencies are attractive because of their potential for high stability, which scales with operational frequency. Nevertheless, optical clocks have not yet realized this vast potential, due in large part to limitations of the laser used to excite the atomic resonance. To address this problem, we demonstrate a cavity-stabilized laser system with a reduced thermal noise floor, exhibiting a fractional frequency instability of 2 × 10−16. We use this laser as a stable optical source in a ytterbium optical lattice clock to resolve an ultranarrow 1 Hz linewidth for the 518 THz clock transition. With the stable laser source and the signal-to-noise ratio afforded by the ytterbium optical clock, we dramatically reduce key stability limitations of the clock, and make measurements consistent with a clock instability of 5 × 10−16 .

Friday, March 4, 2011

Itinerant Ferromagnetism in Ultracold Fermions

Gyu-Boong Jo, Ye-Ryoung Lee, Jae-Hoon Choi, Caleb A. Christensen, Tony H. Kim, Joseph H. Thywissen, David E. Pritchard and Wolfgang Ketterle

Can a gas of spin-up and spin-down fermions become ferromagnetic because of repulsive interactions? We addressed this question, for which there is not yet a definitive theoretical answer, in an experiment with an ultracold two-component Fermi gas. The observation of nonmonotonic behavior of lifetime, kinetic energy, and size for increasing repulsive interactions provides strong evidence for a phase transition to a ferromagnetic state. Our observations imply that itinerant ferromagnetism of delocalized fermions is possible without lattice and band structure, and our data validate the most basic model for ferromagnetism introduced by Stoner.