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Optical Trapping of Ion Coulomb Crystals

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At temperatures near absolute zero, clouds of ions can crystallize when held in ion traps. Such “Coulomb crystals” have allowed physicists to explore the frontiers of physics in a variety of fields, from the cores of white dwarf stars to architectures for quantum computing. However, ions in conventional traps, which use electric and magnetic fields to hold the ions in place, are subject to a continuous swirling motion driven by the trapping fields. This disturbance masks intriguing quantum effects that are predicted to arise in Coulomb crystals. Recently, our group trapped a Coulomb crystal of six ions inside a laser beam, overcoming this fundamental limitation.
In this webinar, we show that the ions remain crystallized in the optical trap, aligned like pearls on a string even in the absence of cooling. In addition, we observe the collective motion of the ions on their lattice sites in a simple crystal. These sound waves are also a characteristic signature of conventional solid-state crystals.
Our findings pave the way for studies of quantum dynamics in Coulomb crystals, such as the transition from linear strings to two-dimensional zigzag structures or the quantum superposition of such structures across the phase transition.

During this webcast you will learn:

  • How to understand the trapping of neutral and charged atoms: similarities and differences between different trapping techniques
  • How to directly observe the dynamics within Coulomb Crystals using “dark-ions” as markers
  • How to exploit optically trapped ions in the future to investigate quantum-phase transitions, illustrated via accessible examples

This webcast has been produced on behalf of the sponsor who retains sole responsibility for content. About this content

Tobias Schaetz
Professor, Internal Senior Fellow, Physics,
University of Freiburg
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Marcin Barszczewski
Global Applications Scientist Imaging
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Dr. Jayshan Carpen
Nature Research
View Biography

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