Amazing Ion Acceleration AchievedCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 15, 2012 09:57AM
A number car manufacturers enjoy touting is how quickly their vehicles can go from 0 MPH to 60 MPH, as well as the reverse because you need to be able to stop quickly as well. Researchers at NIST have likely just broken every car's acceleration records by getting a stopped ion up to 100 MPH and stopping it again in just microseconds. All of this is achieved without disturbing the state of the ion either.
The researchers' setup used an ion trap that would cradle the ion as it accelerates, like a marble in a bowl. As the bowl moves the marble moves with it, but any acceleration of the bowl can cause the marble to move around within it. This movement was actually useful to the researchers because they could precisely time the ion trap stopping with the oscillation of the ion within the trap, so they would come to a stop together. Very importantly, while the ion's quantum state does change while being transported, after it has come to a stop, it returns to how it originally was.
This could impact quantum computers that will use ions for their qubits, as opposed to photons. Previously an issue with ionic quantum computers is that it took longer to move the qubits than to actually process them, but this and other research has narrowed the gap considerably. Next the researchers are going to work on improving the design so heating an noisy electric fields will not disturb the ion, or ions as they also achieved this with two ions in the trap.