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Using two different elements creates new possibilities in hybrid atomic quantum computers

By IQT News posted 03 Mar 2022

(Phys.org) To make a quantum computer out of neutral atom qubits, many individual atoms must be trapped in place by many laser beams. So far, these arrays have only been constructed from atoms of a single element, out of concern that making an array out of two elements would be prohibitively complex.
But for the first time, University of Chicago researchers have created a hybrid array of neutral atoms from two different elements, significantly broadening the system’s potential applications in quantum technology. The results were funded in part by the NSF Quantum Leap Challenge Institute Hybrid Quantum Architectures and Networks (HQAN), and published in Physical Review X.
“There have been many examples of quantum technology that have taken a hybrid approach,” said Hannes Bernien, lead researcher of the project and assistant professor in University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. “But they have not been developed yet for these neutral atom platforms. We are very excited to see that our results have triggered a very positive response from the community, and that new protocols using our hybrid techniques are being developed.”
While manmade qubits such as superconducting circuits require quality control to stay perfectly consistent, neutral atoms made from a single element all have exactly the same properties, making them ideal, consistent candidates for qubits.
In a hybrid array made of atoms of two different elements, any atom’s nearest neighbors can be atoms of the other element, with completely different frequencies. This makes it much easier for researchers to measure and manipulate a single atom without any interference from the atoms around it.
The hybrid nature of this array also opens the door to many applications that wouldn’t be possible with a single species of atom. Since the two species are independently controllable, the atoms of one element can be used as quantum memory while the other can be used to make quantum computations, taking on the respective roles of RAM and a CPU on a typical computer.
“Our work has already inspired theoreticians to think about new protocols for it, which is exactly what I hoped,” Bernien said.

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