In a new experiment conducted by physicists at the Australian National University (ANU), quantum computers have been brought a step closer to reality. Lead researcher Jesse Everett from Australian National University (ANU) said that controlling the movement of light was critical to developing future quantum computers. The research team’s experiment which was created a light trap by shining infrared lasers into ultra-cold atomic vapor was inspired by Everett’s discovery of the potential to stop light in a computer simulation. Also Read - Facebook for Android will soon get dark mode and coronavirus tracking featureAlso Read - Scientists develop soft contact lens that can zoom with a blink
“Optical quantum computing is still a long way off, but our successful experiment to stop light gets us further along the road,” said Everett. He further said that quantum computers based on particles of light – photons – could connect easily with communication technology such as optic fibers and have potential applications in fields such as medicine, defense, telecommunications and financial services. “It’s clear that the light is trapped, there are photons circulating around the atoms,” Everett added. “The atoms absorbed some of the trapped light, but a substantial proportion of the photons were frozen inside the atomic cloud,” he further said. Everett likened the team’s experiment to a scene from Star Wars: The Force Awakens when the character Kylo Ren used the Force to stop a laser blast mid-air.
“It’s pretty amazing to look at a sci-fi movie and say we actually did something that’s a bit like that,” he said. Associate Professor Ben Buchler, who leads the ANU research team, said the light-trap experiment demonstrated incredible control of a very complex system. “Our method allows us to manipulate the interaction of light and atoms with great precision,” said Buchler. Co-researcher Geoff Campbell from ANU said photons mostly passed by each other at the speed of light without any interactions, while atoms interacted with each other readily.
“Corralling a crowd of photons in a cloud of ultra-cold atoms creates more opportunities for them to interact,” said Campbell. “We’re working towards a single photon changing the phase of a second photon. We could use that process to make a quantum logic gate, the building block of a quantum computer,” he said. The research was published in the journal Nature Physics. ALSO READ: Scientists restore earliest recording of computer-generated music