International Atomic Energy Agency Supporting Researchers Using Ion Beams to Enable Developments in Quantum Technology
(IAEA.org) The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has united experts from around the world through a coordinated research project (CRP) to develop materials for quantum technologies since 2017. The CRP includes the development of new experimental techniques and the refinement of theoretical models, with an aim to understand radiation effects and ion interaction processes.
The CRP supported researchers who discovered how to use ion beams to create chains of closely coupled quantum bits (qubits). Qubits are basic units of information that are more complex and powerful than the information-carrying “bits” used in conventional computing. While prototypes of 10- to 50-qubit computers are being used to develop quantum software, the latest discovery shows potential to form quantum systems with up to 10,000 coupled qubits over the length of 50 microns, approximately the width of a strand of human hair.
Quantum sensors with qubits formed using ions beams are being developed in labs participating in the CRP. These sensors can provide highly accurate measurements and will improve the performance of everyday devices and services, from medical diagnostics and imaging to high-precision navigation.
There are 322 ion beam accelerators in the world listed in the IAEA Accelerator Knowledge Portal, “so there is great potential to foster the utilization of ion beam accelerators for quantum technology,” she added.
The IAEA has launched e-learning course, Ion-beam Engineering of Materials for Quantum Technologies. “The course targets PhD students and postdocs – those familiar with ion-matter interactions, materials science and accelerator science and technology,” said Aliz Simon, a nuclear physicist at the IAEA. The course provides an overview of materials engineering with ion beams for quantum science, related accelerator techniques and applications leading to new materials and functionalities.