This is a schematic diagram of part of the superconducting chip. The wavy line is the superconducting cavity. The piece in the bottom right is the superconducting switch. Credit: UCSB


Physicists make discovery in the quantum realm by manipulating light

March 4, 2013

( —Physicists at UC Santa Barbara are manipulating light on superconducting chips, and forging new pathways to building the quantum devices of the future –– including super-fast and powerful quantum computers.

The science behind tomorrow’s quantum computing and communications devices is being conducted today at UCSB in what some physicists consider to be one of the world’s top laboratories in the study of quantum physics. A team in the lab of John Martinis, UCSB professor of physics, has made a discovery that provides new understanding in the quantum realm and the findings are published this week in Physical Review Letters.

“As one crucial step of achieving controllable quantum devices, we have developed an unprecedented level of manipulating light on a superconducting chip,” said first author Yi Yin. Yin worked on the project when she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Martinis Lab from 2009 to 2012. She relocated to her native China last fall, where she is now a professor at Zhejiang University in the city of Hangzhou.

“In our experiment, we caught and released photons in and from a superconducting cavity by incorporating a superconducting switch,” said Yin. “By controlling the switch on and off, we were able to open and close a door between the confined cavity and the road where photons can transmit. The on/off speed should be fast enough with a tuning time much shorter than the photon lifetime of the cavity.”

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