Trapped ions provide an ideal physical system to realize qubits. Well-defined qubits with long coherence times have been demonstrated, along with an efficient way to initialize and measure qubit states. Several schemes for realizing universal set of logic gates have also been proposed and demonstrated. These demonstrations provide a solid platform for constructing a scalable quantum information processor (QIP).
A Platform To Integrate Functionalities
The realization of large-scale QIP hinges on the availability of a technology platform to integrate all necessary functionalities to construct a functional circuit, just like the integrated circuits (IC) technology has provided for the classical information processors. For this purpose, the interconnect architecture to transport quantum information from one location in the QIP to another is crucial to system design. Many researchers have suggested ideas over the years, that evolved to a realistic distributed quantum multicomputer architecture.
In this architecture (shown in Figure 1), the overall QIP is divided into elementary logic units (ELUs) consisting of ~102 qubits. Each ELU consists of ion trap chip capable of trapping such density of ions, integrated with control electronics for ion transport within the chip, optical beam distribution network to manipulate the internal states of the ions, and measurement optics to measure the qubit states. The ELU also contains a communication port, where an entangled ion-photon pair is generated and the photon is efficiently captured into a single mode fiber. In the overall computer architecture, a large number (~103) of such ELUs are connected optically through an optical crossconnect (OXC) switch. On the outputs of the OXC, a set of Bell state detectors provide the entanglement swapping procedure by measuring the interference of photons from different ELUs. This architecture enables generation of entangled ion pairs between any two ELUs in the computer, with a flat communication cost that is independent of the distance between the qubits in the computer.
Figure 1: Architecture for distributed quantum multicomputer with photonic
interconnect network using a large-scale optical crossconnect switch.
The QIP is in Reach
The technology elements needed to construct such a QIP is within reach. A large scale OXC with more than 1,000 input and output ports have been demonstrated in the context of optical communications. The principles of ion-photon entanglement and ion-ion entanglement using photon exchange have been demonstrated recently. Several groups in the world are working on integrated ion trap chips capable of trapping tens to hundreds of ions on a single chip.
There are, however, critical elements that are yet to be developed:
- Realization of high density ion trap chips with the capability to arbitrarily transport ions on the chip
- A more efficient way to determine the internal state of the qubits, which requires a better means to collect the photons scattered from the ions during the measurement process
- Much more efficient ways to collect the photon from the ion-photon entanglement process at the communication port
- Efficient ways to deliver the necessary control laser beams to the ions in the ELU
Addressing the Challenges
The first, second and third challenge are addressed in this project. Dr. Slusher's group at Georgia Institute of Technology is working on addressing the first challenge, and we are collaborating with their group to add optical functionality by integrating micro-optical components with their ion trap chip . Multi-functional trap architectures fundamentally integrated with optical elements are crucial in addressing the second and the third challenge listed above. An approach that integrates high numerical aperture reflective surfaces with the ion traps will dramatically improve the collection efficiency of the scattered photons beyond the limits available with refractive optics. Ion traps integrated into an optical micro-cavity will dramatically enhance the ion-photon entanglement generation process.
The last challenge of distributing control beams requires multiplexed laser beam control from outside the ion trap chip. The first steps to addressing this challenge is explored in our second project, using MEMS-based beam steering technology.