(SciTechDaily) The development of experimental platforms that advance the field of quantum science and technology (QIST) comes with a unique set of advantages and challenges common to any emergent technology. IQT-News shares recent research from Stony Brook University where a group led by Dominik Schneble, PhD, have reported the formation of matter-wave polaritons in an optical lattice, an experimental discovery that permits studies of a central QIST paradigm through direct quantum simulation using ultracold atoms.
Their findings will benefit the further development of QIST platforms that are poised to revolutionize computing and communication technology. The research findings are detailed in a paper published in the journal Nature Physics.
An important challenge in working with photon-based QIST platforms is that while photons can be ideal carriers of quantum information they do not normally interact with each other. The absence of such interactions also inhibits the controlled exchange of quantum information between them. A major challenge is the limited lifetime of these photon-based polaritons due to their radiative coupling to the environment, which leads to uncontrolled spontaneous decay and decoherence.
According to Schneble and colleagues, their published polariton research circumvents such limitations caused by spontaneous decay completely. The photon aspects of their polaritons are entirely carried by atomic matter waves, for which such unwanted decay processes do not exist. This feature opens access to parameter regimes that are not, or not yet, accessible in photon-based polaritonic systems.
The Stony Brook researchers conducted their experiments with a platform featuring ultracold atoms in an optical lattice, an egg-crate-like potential landscape formed by standing waves of light. Using a dedicated vacuum apparatus featuring various lasers and control fields and operating at nanokelvin temperature, they implemented a scenario in which the atoms trapped in the lattice “dress’’ themselves with clouds of vacuum excitations made of fragile, evanescent matter waves.
“With our experiment we performed a quantum simulation of an exciton-polariton system in a novel regime,” explains Schneble. “The quest to perform such `analogue’ simulations, which in addition are `analog` in the sense that the relevant parameters can be freely dialed in, by itself constitutes an important direction within QIST.”
Sandra K. Helsel, Ph.D. has been researching and reporting on frontier technologies since 1990. She has her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.