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Trapping Rydberg Atoms
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Trapping Rydberg Atoms

November 24, 2010
An artist's depiction of Rydberg atoms trapped in a one-dimensional optical lattice--a crate made of interfering laser beams. Researchers from the University of Michigan department of physics, who developed the trap, believe this achievement could help enable fast quantum computers.

Rydberg atoms are highly excited, nearly-ionized giants that can be thousands of times larger than their ground-state counterparts. As a result of their size, interactions between Rydberg atoms can be roughly a million times stronger than between regular atoms, which is why researchers believe they could serve as faster quantum circuits. Quantum computers could solve problems too complicated for conventional computers. The trap was developed by researchers from the University of Michigan department of physics with funding from grants from the National Science Foundation (PHY 08-55871 and PHY 01-14336). To learn more about this research, see University of Michigan news story, "Trapping giant Rydberg atoms for faster quantum computers." (Date of Image: May 2010)