Publications by Vera Schafer

Magnetic field stabilization system for atomic physics experiments

Review of Scientific Instruments AIP Publishing 90 (2019) 044702

B Merkel, K Thirumalai, JE Tarlton, VM Schäfer, CJ Ballance, TP Harty, D Lucas

Atomic physics experiments commonly use millitesla-scale magnetic fields to provide a quantization axis. As atomic transition frequencies depend on the magnitude of this field, many experiments require a stable absolute field. Most setups use electromagnets, which require a power supply stability not usually met by commercially available units. We demonstrate the stabilization of a field of 14.6 mT to 4.3 nT rms noise (0.29 ppm), compared to noise of >100 nT without any stabilization. The rms noise is measured using a field-dependent hyperfine transition in a single 43Ca+ ion held in a Paul trap at the center of the magnetic field coils. For the 43Ca+ "atomic clock" qubit transition at 14.6 mT, which depends on the field only in second order, this would yield a projected coherence time of many hours. Our system consists of a feedback loop and a feedforward circuit that control the current through the field coils and could easily be adapted to other field amplitudes, making it suitable for other applications such as neutral atom traps.

Fast quantum logic gates with trapped-ion qubits

Nature Nature Publishing Group 555 (2018) 75-78

VM Schäfer, C Ballance, K Thirumalai, LJ Stephenson, TG Ballance, AM Steane, D Lucas

Quantum bits (qubits) based on individual trapped atomic ions are a promising technology for building a quantum computer. The elementary operations necessary to do so have been achieved with the required precision for some error-correction schemes. However, the essential two-qubit logic gate that is used to generate quantum entanglement has hitherto always been performed in an adiabatic regime (in which the gate is slow compared with the characteristic motional frequencies of the ions in the trap), resulting in logic speeds of the order of 10 kilohertz. There have been numerous proposals of methods for performing gates faster than this natural 'speed limit' of the trap. Here we implement one such method, which uses amplitude-shaped laser pulses to drive the motion of the ions along trajectories designed so that the gate operation is insensitive to the optical phase of the pulses. This enables fast (megahertz-rate) quantum logic that is robust to fluctuations in the optical phase, which would otherwise be an important source of experimental error. We demonstrate entanglement generation for gate times as short as 480 nanoseconds-less than a single oscillation period of an ion in the trap and eight orders of magnitude shorter than the memory coherence time measured in similar calcium-43 hyperfine qubits. The power of the method is most evident at intermediate timescales, at which it yields a gate error more than ten times lower than can be attained using conventional techniques; for example, we achieve a 1.6-microsecond-duration gate with a fidelity of 99.8 per cent. Faster and higher-fidelity gates are possible at the cost of greater laser intensity. The method requires only a single amplitude-shaped pulse and one pair of beams derived from a continuous-wave laser. It offers the prospect of combining the unrivalled coherence properties, operation fidelities and optical connectivity of trapped-ion qubits with the submicrosecond logic speeds that are usually associated with solid-state devices.

High-fidelity elementary qubit operations with trapped ions

Optics InfoBase Conference Papers Part F73-QIM 2017 (2017)

DM Lucas, TP Harty, CJ Ballance, DPL Aude Craik, MA Sepiol, VM Schäfer, K Thirumalai, JE Tarlton, L Stephenson, J Wolf, JF Goodwin, A Hughes, C Loschnauer, TG Ballance, AM Steane

© OSA 2017. I will describe recent experimental work at Oxford on implementing elementary one- and two-qubit operations with the high fidelities (99.9% or more) required for the implementation of quantum error correction, using trapped-ion “atomic clock“ qubits.

Hybrid quantum logic and a test of Bell's inequality using two different atomic isotopes.

Nature 528 (2015) 384-386

CJ Ballance, VM Schäfer, JP Home, DJ Szwer, SC Webster, DTC Allcock, NM Linke, TP Harty, DPL Aude Craik, DN Stacey, AM Steane, DM Lucas

Entanglement is one of the most fundamental properties of quantum mechanics, and is the key resource for quantum information processing (QIP). Bipartite entangled states of identical particles have been generated and studied in several experiments, and post-selected or heralded entangled states involving pairs of photons, single photons and single atoms, or different nuclei in the solid state, have also been produced. Here we use a deterministic quantum logic gate to generate a 'hybrid' entangled state of two trapped-ion qubits held in different isotopes of calcium, perform full tomography of the state produced, and make a test of Bell's inequality with non-identical atoms. We use a laser-driven two-qubit gate, whose mechanism is insensitive to the qubits' energy splittings, to produce a maximally entangled state of one (40)Ca(+) qubit and one (43)Ca(+) qubit, held 3.5 micrometres apart in the same ion trap, with 99.8 ± 0.6 per cent fidelity. We test the CHSH (Clauser-Horne-Shimony-Holt) version of Bell's inequality for this novel entangled state and find that it is violated by 15 standard deviations; in this test, we close the detection loophole but not the locality loophole. Mixed-species quantum logic is a powerful technique for the construction of a quantum computer based on trapped ions, as it allows protection of memory qubits while other qubits undergo logic operations or are used as photonic interfaces to other processing units. The entangling gate mechanism used here can also be applied to qubits stored in different atomic elements; this would allow both memory and logic gate errors caused by photon scattering to be reduced below the levels required for fault-tolerant quantum error correction, which is an essential prerequisite for general-purpose quantum computing.

Optical injection and spectral filtering of high-power ultraviolet laser diodes.

Optics letters 40 (2015) 4265-4268

VM Schäfer, CJ Ballance, CJ Tock, DM Lucas

We demonstrate injection locking of high-power laser diodes operating at 397 nm. We achieve stable operation with an injection power of ∼100  μW and a slave laser output power of up to 110 mW. We investigate the spectral purity of the slave laser light via photon scattering experiments on a single trapped (40)Ca(+) ion. We show that it is possible to achieve a scattering rate indistinguishable from that of monochromatic light by filtering the laser light with a diffraction grating to remove amplified spontaneous emission.