Two articles from ITP in first issue ever of QST journal

We are proud that our group has two articles in the first issue ever of the new journal ‘Quantum Science and Technology’:

Picture1Coherent control of quantum systems as a resource theory. – J.M. Matera, D. Egloff, N. Killoran, and M.B. Plenio
Quantum Sci. Technol. 1, 01LT01 (2016)|ArXiv
The gist of it

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.


qstaa2b2ff1_lrRealising 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.

Summer BBQ

Yesterday we had our annual BBQ!
The food was delicious and the company was great!

Thanks to everyone who helped out :)


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And a special thanks to our Rock Stars!

Click here if you want to feel like you were there!

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Updated: August 2016

The paper “Ultrasensitive magnetometer using a single atom” was selected as a PRL EDITORS’ SUGGESTION

High-sensitivity magnetometer using a single atom
Ultrasensitive magnetometer using a single atom.
– I. Baumgart, J.M. Cai, A. Retzker, M.B. Plenio and Ch. Wunderlich,
Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 240801 (2016)|ArXiv

The gist of it

The development of highly sensitive methods for the detection of minute fields lies at the heart of quantum metrology and has, over the history of science, led to many discoveries. This motivates the continuous drive towards the development of ever more sensitive metrology methods. Of particular interest in this context are atoms and ions that are trapped in ultra-high vacuum as they can be isolated to a remarkable degree from environmental influences. Still noise will impose limitations and needs to be addressed.

We demonstrate a novel method for sensing magnetic fields and demonstrate that it can achieve the best sensitivity ever realized for a single trapped atomic particle and it can do so over a broad range of frequencies. State-of-the-art magnetometers reach their best sensitivity in a limited frequency-band or do not work at all (for all practical purposes) outside a certain frequency range. The type of magnetometer introduced here could be used to detect fields from direct-current to the gigahertz regime – an unprecedented range of frequencies – using an atom confined to a nanometer-sized region in space. Moreover, the magnetometer is essentially immune against magnetic disturbances and reaches a sensitivity close to the standard quantum limit.


Updated: June 2016

Felipe is a Daddy!

Congratulations, Felipe, for the birth of your new born son, Yunus Caycedo!!!

We hope you have a joyful and healthy journey ahead and we are looking forward to Yunus’ first  visit to the institute!


Updated: June 2016

Congratulations to Maria for the PhD grant

We would like to congratulate Maria for receiving a PhD grant from La Caixa in Spain!

We are sad that you will be leaving us but wish you Good Luck in this next exciting venture!


Updated: June 2016

The HYPERDIAMOND project – Horizon 2020

logo_Hyperdiamond_transparentEC LOGO

The HYPERDIAMOND project, coordinated by Martin Plenio, was chosen as one of the eight projects (out of 390) selected in the Horizon 2020 call Personalizing Health and Care: Development of new diagnostic tools and technologies: in vivo medical imaging technologies.

HYPERDIAMOND marks the first translational research and innovation project coordinated by the Institute of Theoretical Physics (ITP). Unlike the previous EU projects of the institute which were research focused, HYPERDIAMOND is a research and innovation project aiming at developing a new technology for improving medical imaging, in particular the imaging of targeted molecules and processes in vivo.

Building on recent breakthroughs in molecular hyperpolarization, which proved > 10,000-fold increase in sensitivity on conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), HYPERDIAMOND will bring radical advances from the fields of quantum physics and nanotechnologies to develop a technology suitable for widespread medical use. Leveraging unique properties of NV centres in diamonds, combined with diamond surface and organic chemistry and dynamic nuclear polarization protocols, the HYPERDIAMOND project will bridge the gap between the lab and the medical setting, making two new technological devices compatible with medical imaging requirements.

In the project ITP will develop novel dynamic nuclear polarization protocols which will serve as the basis for the developed technology, model the dynamics of nuclear relaxation in nanodiamonds, and support the experiments with theory and simulations. Moreover, one of the SMEs participating in the project, NVision Imaging Technologies GmbH, is a technology spin-off of Ulm University founded by Ilai Schwartz and Martin Plenio of the ITP, ITP alumni Alex Retzker and Fedor Jelezko from the IQO. NVision is building on the research performed at ITP and the Institute of Quantum Optics to bring novel imaging technologies to real-world applications.

ITP, together with three additional institutes in Ulm University, established a truly multidisciplinary team: combining leading research institutes and 3 SMEs, with expertise ranging from molecular imaging (Austrian Institute of Technology), NMR (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), nanodiamond material science (François Rabelais University, Van-Moppes), theoretical and experimental quantum physics (University of Ulm, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, NVision Imaging Technologies), diamond surface bio-chemistry (UULM), small animal MR imaging (Hadassah Medical Center, UULM), pre-clinical expertise (UULM, Hadassah, AIT) and medical devices and magnetics production (Kanfit).

Updated: May 2016

Table-Tennis tournament




This April we have celebrated the 1st Table Tennis Tournament of the ITP. It has been an amazing event where many institute members have taken part, either as a participant or as a captivated audience. We had four rounds, each of them full of incredible matches and breathtaking shots that will be remembered forever and ever.

Click here to watch video clip #1

Click here to watch video clip #2


After three weeks of thrilling expectation Ish Dhand has won the finals, obtaining the certificate of the Absolute Winner, donning the victory crown, and gaining the honorable title of PingPong King! Congratulations again!!!

Given the success of the first edition, we are already planning a Table Tennis League while we wait for the second tournament!

Many thanks to Pelayo for organizing it!

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Updated: May 2016