# Synopsis: Opening the gate to quantum computation

The demonstration of entanglement between two neutral atoms would be a key step toward using them for quantum computation.

Entanglement lies at the heart of quantum computation. Entangling neutral atoms is attractive because they interact weakly with their environment, but by the same token, they are difficult to entangle compared with strongly interacting ions. Papers appearing simultaneously in Physical Review Letters demonstrate how separate groups are achieving entanglement between two neutral atoms by using a method called Rydberg blockade.

The underlying idea behind Rydberg blockade is that the state of one atom (the control) determines whether the other (the target) can be excited into a high-energy state. This effective coupling between the two atoms turns them into a collectively two-level system.

Tatjana Wilk and colleagues at the Institut d’Optique (CNRS and Université Paris-Sud) in France use the Rydberg blockade to entangle ${}^{87}\text{Rb}$ atoms that are held a few microns apart by optical tweezers. In a separate paper, Larry Isenhower and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, US, report similar methods to create a two-qubit controlled-NOT (CNOT) gate between ${}^{87}\text{Rb}$ atoms. The CNOT gate then serves as a means to achieve entanglement between the atoms.

Both groups report the preparation of quantum states with an accuracy (or, fidelity) that is near the threshold needed to prove entanglement; correcting for losses associated with atoms that fell out of the optical traps suggests that the remaining pairs of atoms are entangled with a fidelity well over the threshold. Although there is still work to be done in fine tuning the methods reported by both groups, the papers collectively show important progress toward quantum processing with neutral atoms. – Jessica Thomas and Sonja Grondalski

More Features »

### Announcements

More Announcements »

Mesoscopics

## Next Synopsis

Atomic and Molecular Physics

## Related Articles

Optics

### Viewpoint: A Multimode Dial for Interatomic Interactions

A tunable multimode optical cavity modifies interactions between atomic condensates trapped in its interior from long range to short range, paving the way towards exploring novel collective quantum phenomena. Read More »

Atomic and Molecular Physics

### Synopsis: Twisted Cavity Is a One-Way Light Path

A cavity containing spin-polarized atoms can serve as an optical isolator that breaks time-reversal symmetry by letting only forward-moving light pass.   Read More »

Atomic and Molecular Physics

### Synopsis: Nuclear Masses Don’t Add Up

The sum of the proton and deuteron masses minus the helium-3 nucleus mass, obtained from a measurement with a molecular ion, remains at odds with the number calculated from accepted values for these masses. Read More »