We are proud that our group has two articles in the first issue ever of the new journal ‘Quantum Science and Technology’:
While controlling a quantum system is a standard task nowadays, we are still far away from developing quantum computers, and one might wonder what is the difference between the two. Qualitatively the difference is that for quantum computing one needs to control quantum systems in a quantum way, using quantum systems instead of directly using the large apparata or (classical) electromagnetical fields that often are enough to control a quantum system directly. In this letter we make this idea precise by building a theory which allows us to quantify the usefulness of controlling a quantum system through a quantum system instead of using a classical one.
Realising a quantum absorption refrigerator with an atom-cavity system. – M. Mitchison, M. Huber, J. Prior, M.P. Woods and M.B. Plenio
Quantum Sci. Technol. 1, 015001 (2016)|ArXiv
licensed under CC BY 3.0
The gist of it
Cooling of atomic motion is an essential precursor for many interesting experiments and technologies, such as quantum computing and simulation using trapped atoms and ions. In most cases, this cooling is performed using lasers to create a kind of light-induced friction force which slows the atoms down. This process is often rather wasteful, because lasers use up a huge amount of energy relative to the tiny size of the atoms we want to cool. Here, we propose to solve this problem using a quantum absorption refrigerator: a machine that is powered only by readily available thermal energy, such as sunlight, as it flows through the device. We describe how to build such a refrigerator, and predict that sunlight could actually be used to cool an atom to nearly absolute zero temperature. The refrigerator works by trapping the sunlight between two mirrors, in such a way that every single photon makes a significant contribution to the friction force slowing the atom down. Similar schemes could eventually be important for reducing the energy cost of cooling in future quantum technologies.