Mass market quantum computing is a step closer to reality thanks to researchers from the UK’s National Physics Laboratory (NPL), who have created the world's’ first scalable 3D ion-trap. While scalable 2D ion traps (used to handle quantum-bits or qubits of information) already exist, 3D ion-traps have promised more precise control of ions at the atomic level. The problem has been that in all previous 3D ion-traps have had to sacrifice either their scalability or their extra control. In terms of elementary operating characteristics (number of ions controlled and degree of control) the NPL teams’ ion-trap chip outperforms all other scalable devices. Using a novel process based on semiconductor fabrication, the scientists developed the ion-trap device from a silica-on-silicon wafer. The researches are already able to confine strings of up to 14 ions in a single segment of the array and the fabrication process should enable device scaling to handle even greater numbers of ions.
National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Greater London TW11, UK