Trapped ions hold key to major advances

Rainer Blatt, the Academy’s 2013 Frew Fellow.

A string of interacting ions, all individually controlled by laser beams, could hold the key to major advances in computing and communication.

The ability to trap, observe and control individual ions, one by one or as close knit groups, is one of the promising new quantum technologies that might be at the core of new gadgets we will use. A string of interacting ions, all individually controlled by laser beams, could hold the key to major advances in computing and communication.

Frew Fellowship

Professor Rainer Blatt, one of the global pioneers in this area and a founder of the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Austria, toured Australia in December providing presentations on this dynamic field of research as the Academy’s 2013 Frew Fellow. These Fellowships are awarded to distinguished overseas scientists to participate in the biennial Australian spectroscopy conference and to visit scientific centres in Australia.

Professor Blatt’s team has perfected the art of trapping ions, controlling their locations and vibrations, entangling many ions and creating quantum logic devices. Together with colleagues across the world they have steadily expanded the quality, reliability and complexity of these new quantum logic circuits. They are leaders in this dynamic and competitive activity around the globe.

Shared goals

In Australia, such work is carried out in several Australian Research Council Centres of Excellence, with nodes across the country and involving most major universities. They all share the same science goals while working with a diverse range of devices: solid state systems, laser beams, single photons, ultra cold atoms and Bose Einstein Condensates, atom lasers, opto-mechanical devices, colour centres in diamonds or electrical circuits at cryogenic temperatures. The groups complement each other, sharing the same quantum concepts as they work on the challenge of finding the best technology.

As part of his Fellowship, Professor Blatt addressed the 2013 Australian and New Zealand Conference on Optics and Photonics in Fremantle Western Australia, where he inspired a large group of delegates. He also visited laboratories in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

© 2022 Australian Academy of Science

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