A Bose-Einstein condensate, a group of atoms that have the same
quantum wavefunction, was first made 6 years ago, it took a room full of
expensive equipment. In the current issue of Nature Ron Folman and
Jorg Schmidmayer report they can form a BEC on a microchip in less
than a second, and they can move it around the chip. In a editorial the
editors of Nature write:
"What next? The atom chip might lead to miniaturized versions of highly
accurate atomic clocks and acceleration sensors, which are already
used for precision measurements. Such tiny systems could be useful in
navigation systems. The atom chip could also be integrated into quantum
communication and encryption systems, which ensure information security.
In quantum information, a 'qubit' is the quantum equivalent of a classical 'bit'
of information. So, for example, the atom chip may enable the conversion
of 'flying qubits' (photons that can travel along optical fibres) into
'storage qubits' — atoms that can be kept in a single location for a long
time without changing their quantum state. A final example, and the most
far-reaching, is the quantum computer, for which quantum theory predicts
a new type of computing logic, able in some cases to outrun the present
classical computers by many orders of magnitude in processing time.
Once further advances are made on issues such as single-atom trapping
and controlled entanglement, which are needed to do computations, the atom
chip could turn out to be the obvious choice for building a quantum computer."
John K Clark email@example.com
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