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Quanten-Algorithmen bringen Ionen zum Stillstand

Quantum algorithms bring ions to a standstill

Mismatched partners are being cooled: A single beryllium ion (red, left) and a single highly charged argon ion (purple, right) are bombarded by lasers from various sides and are almost brought to a complete standstill.

Researchers overcome a major hurdle on the journey towards even more accurate optical atomic clocks

Laser beams can do more than just heat things up; they can cool them down too. That is nothing new for physicists who have devoted themselves to precision spectroscopy and the development of optical atomic clocks. But what is new is the extremely low temperature that researchers at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) have been able to reach with their highly charged ions – this type of ion has never been cooled down as far as 200 µK before. The team working on this succeeded by combining their established methods which include the laser cooling of coupled ions and methods from the field of quantum computing. The application of quantum algorithms ensured that ions that are too dissimilar for traditional laser cooling to work effectively could be cooled down together after all. This means that we are getting closer to an optical atomic clock with highly charged ions, and this clock might have the potential to be even more accurate than existing optical atomic clocks. The results have been published in the current issue of “Physical Review X”.

Further information is also available on the PTB website.