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Quantum technologies

Dieter Meschede's research group
Home Group members Andreas Steffen
Group members
Dipl.-Phys. Andreas Steffen
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Few-atom quantum systems

Publications(up to 2013)

  • A. Steffen
    Single atom interferometers and Bloch oscillations in quantum walks, (2013), PhD thesisBibTeXPDF
    This thesis deals with the digital manipulation of the position and spin of neutral Caesium atoms in an optical lattice. I investigate coherent phenomena based on interferences between the trajectories of a single atom. Individual atoms are split by making use of our state-dependent lattice to shift different spin states in opposite directions, leading to coherent superpositions of spin and position state. This offers many possibilities; in this work, we chose to investigate atom interferometry and quantum walks in potential gradients. Chapter 1 is a brief introduction to the importance of phase in quantum mechanics. In chapter 2, I provide an introduction to our experimental apparatus with particular focus on state-dependent shifting and correct alignment procedures. Our model for decoherence in the lattice is also presented, with emphasis on the polarization state of the lattice lasers. Chapter 3 presents the first of two measurement campaigns, which employs a single atom interferometer with a flexible geometry. We investigate a laser intensity gradient present in the system and demonstrate how several interferometer geometries can be compared to glean extra information about the symmetries of a potential gradient, such as its spin state dependence. A deliberately applied inertial force serves as a proof-of-principle for accelerometry and is correctly measured. Chapter 4 contains the results of the second measurement campaign, which focussed on quantum walks. Quantum walks are a quantum analog to classical random walks and possess remarkable spreading properties. A theoretical model is presented, including a band structure picture of the walk. Unlike previous experiments, the walk can now be performed in a potential gradient, giving rise to new physics, in particular Bloch oscillations, which manifest as oscillations of the distribution width. Experimental results first confirm the predictions made by our model and show quantum walks of up to 100 steps with coherent behaviour. Walks in potential gradients are measured and indeed show clear signatures of Bloch oscillations. This is particularly remarkable because the quantum walk is effectively mimicking an electron in a solid, forming a basic quantum simulator. Chapter 5 is a conclusion and a preview on ongoing technical improvements that stand to significantly extend the experimental capabilities.
  • A. Steffen, W. Alt, M. Genske, D. Meschede, C. Robens and A. Alberti
    In-situ measurement of vacuum window birefringence by atomic spectroscopy, Rev. Sci. Instrum. 84, 126103 (2013)arXivBibTeXPDF

    We present an in-situ method to measure the birefringence of a single vacuum window by means of microwave spectroscopy on an ensemble of cold atoms. Stress-induced birefringence can cause an ellipticity in the polarization of an initially linearly-polarized laser beam. The amount of ellipticity can be reconstructed by measuring the differential vector light shift of an atomic hyperfine transition. Measuring the ellipticity as a function of the linear polarization angle allows us to infer the amount of birefringence Δn at the level of 10-8 and identify the orientation of the optical axes. The key benefit of this method is the ability to separately characterize each vacuum window, allowing the birefringence to be precisely compensated in existing vacuum apparatuses.

  • M. Genske, W. Alt, A. Steffen, A. H. Werner, R. F. Werner, D. Meschede and A. Alberti
    Electric quantum walks with individual atoms, Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 190601 (2013)arXivBibTeXPDF
    We report on the experimental realization of electric quantum walks, which mimic the effect of an electric field on a charged particle in a lattice. Starting from a textbook implementation of discrete-time quantum walks, we introduce an extra operation in each step to implement the effect of the field. The recorded dynamics of such a quantum particle exhibits features closely related to Bloch oscillations and interband tunneling. In particular, we explore the regime of strong fields, demonstrating contrasting quantum behaviors: quantum resonances vs. dynamical localization depending on whether the accumulated Bloch phase is a rational or irrational fraction of 2π.
  • A. Steffen, A. Alberti, W. Alt, N. Belmechri, S. Hild, M. Karski, A. Widera and D. Meschede
    A digital atom interferometer with single particle control on a discretized spacetime geometry, PNAS 109, 9770 (2012)arXivBibTeXPDF
    Engineering quantum particle systems, such as quantum simulators and quantum cellular automata, relies on full coherent control of quantum paths at the single particle level. Here we present an atom interferometer operating with single trapped atoms, where single particle wave packets are controlled through spin-dependent potentials. The interferometer is constructed from a sequence of discrete operations based on a set of elementary building blocks, which permit composing arbitrary interferometer geometries in a digital manner. We use this modularity to devise a space-time analogue of the well-known spin echo technique, yielding insight into decoherence mechanisms. We also demonstrate mesoscopic delocalization of single atoms with a separation-to-localization ratio exceeding 500; this result suggests their utilization beyond quantum logic applications as nano-resolution quantum probes in precision measurements, being able to measure potential gradients with precision 5 × 10^-4 in units of gravitational acceleration g.
  • M. Karski, L. Förster, J. Choi, A. Steffen, N. Belmechri, W. Alt, D. Meschede and A. Widera
    Imprinting Patterns of Neutral Atoms in an Optical Lattice using Magnetic Resonance Techniques, New J. Phys. 12, 065027 (2010)arXivBibTeXPDF
    We prepare arbitrary patterns of neutral atoms in a one-dimensional (1D) optical lattice with single-site precision using microwave radiation in a magnetic field gradient. We give a detailed account of the current limitations and propose methods to overcome them. Our results have direct relevance for addressing planes, strings or single atoms in higher-dimensional optical lattices for quantum information processing or quantum simulations with standard methods in current experiments. Furthermore, our findings pave the way for arbitrary single-qubit control with single-site resolution.
  • L. Förster, M. Karski, J. Choi, A. Steffen, W. Alt, D. Meschede, A. Widera, E. Montano, J. H. Lee, W. Rakreungdet and P. S. Jessen
    Microwave Control of Atomic Motion in Optical Lattices, Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 233001 (2009)arXivBibTeXPDF
    We control the quantum mechanical motion of neutral atoms in an optical lattice by driving microwave transitions between spin states whose trapping potentials are spatially offset. Control of this offset with nanometer precision allows for adjustment of the coupling strength between different motional states, analogous to an adjustable effective Lamb-Dicke factor. This is used both for efficient one-dimensional sideband cooling of individual atoms to a vibrational ground state population of 97% and to drive coherent Rabi oscillation between arbitrary pairs of vibrational states. We further show that microwaves can drive well resolved transitions between motional states in maximally offset, shallow lattices, and thus in principle allow for coherent control of long-range quantum transport.
  • M. Karski, L. Förster, J. Choi, A. Steffen, W. Alt, D. Meschede and A. Widera
    Quantum Walk in Position Space with Single Optically Trapped Atoms, Science 325, 174 (2009)arXivBibTeX
    The quantum walk is the quantum analog of the well-known random walk, which forms the basis for models and applications in many realms of science. Its properties are markedly different from the classical counterpart and might lead to extensive applications in quantum information science. In our experiment, we implemented a quantum walk on the line with single neutral atoms by deterministically delocalizing them over the sites of a one-dimensional spin-dependent optical lattice. With the use of site-resolved fluorescence imaging, the final wave function is characterized by local quantum state tomography, and its spatial coherence is demonstrated. Our system allows the observation of the quantum-to-classical transition and paves the way for applications, such as quantum cellular automata.