The new work shows that collections of ultracold molecules can retain the information stored in them, for hundreds of times longer than researchers have previously achieved in these materials.
Using this kind of two-atom molecules for quantum information processing “Had been suggested some time ago,” says Park, “And this work demonstrates the first experimental step toward realizing this new platform, which is that quantum information can be stored in dipolar molecules for extended times.”
“The most amazing thing is that [these] molecules are a system which may allow realizing both storage and processing of quantum information, using the very same physical system,” Will says.
In the team’s initial proof-of-principle lab tests, a few thousand of the simple molecules were contained in a microscopic puff of gas, trapped at the intersection of two laser beams and cooled to ultracold temperatures of about 300 nanokelvins.
“We have been able to trap molecules for a long time, and also demonstrate that they can carry quantum information and hold onto it for a long time,” Zwierlein says.
The findings “Beautifully reveal the potential of exploiting nuclear spin states in ultracold molecules for applications in quantum information processing, as quantum memories and as a means to probe dipolar interactions and ultracold collisions in polar molecules,” he says.
“I think the results constitute a major step forward in the field of ultracold molecules and will be of broad interest to the large community of researchers exploring related aspects of quantum science, coherence, quantum information, and quantum simulation.”