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Quantum technologies

Dieter Meschede's research group
Home Group members Stefan Brakhane
Group members
Stefan Brakhane
Position: Postdoc
Field of research: Few-atom quantum systems
Digital quantum simulators
Institut für Angewandte Physik
Wegelerstr. 8
D-53115 Bonn
Office room: 113
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Office: +49 228 73-3482
Fax: +49 228 73-3474


  • C. Robens, S. Brakhane, W. Alt, D. Meschede, J. Zopes and A. Alberti
    Fast, high-precision optical polarization synthesizer for ultracold-atom experiments, arXiv:1608.02410, (2017)arXivBibTeXPDF

    We present a novel approach to precisely synthesize arbitrary polarization states of light with a high modulation bandwidth. Our approach consists in superimposing two laser light fields with the same wavelength, but with opposite circular polarizations, where the phase and amplitude of each light field are individually controlled. We find that the polarization-synthesized beam reaches a degree of polarization of 99.99%, which is mainly limited by static spatial variations of the polarization state over the beam profile. We also find that the depolarization caused by temporal fluctuations of the polarization state is about two orders of magnitude smaller. In a recent work, Robens et al. [Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 065302 (2017)] demonstrated an application of the polarization synthesizer to create two independently controllable optical lattices, which trap atoms depending on their internal spin state. We here use ultracold atoms in polarization-synthesized optical lattices to give an independent, in-situ demonstration of the performance of the polarization synthesizer.

  • C. Robens, J. Zopes, W. Alt, S. Brakhane, D. Meschede and A. Alberti
    Low-entropy states of neutral atoms in polarization-synthesized optical lattices, Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 065302 (2017)arXivBibTeXPDF

    We create low-entropy states of neutral atoms by utilizing a conceptually new optical-lattice technique that relies on a high-precision, high-bandwidth synthesis of light polarization. Polarization-synthesized optical lattices provide two fully controllable optical lattice potentials, each of them confining only atoms in either one of the two long-lived hyperfine states. By employing one lattice as the storage register and the other one as the shift register, we provide a proof of concept using four atoms that selected regions of the periodic potential can be filled with one particle per site. We expect that our results can be scaled up to thousands of atoms by employing an atom-sorting algorithm with logarithmic complexity, which is enabled by polarization-synthesized optical lattices. Vibrational entropy is subsequently removed by sideband cooling methods. Our results pave the way for a bottom-up approach to creating ultralow-entropy states of a many-body system.

  • C. Robens, S. Brakhane, W. Alt, F. Kleißler, D. Meschede, G. Moon, G. Ramola and A. Alberti
    High numerical aperture (NA = 0.92) objective lens for imaging and addressing of cold atoms, Opt. Lett. 42, 1043 (2017)arXivBibTeXPDF

    We have designed, built, and characterized a high- resolution objective lens that is compatible with an ultra-high vacuum environment. The lens system ex- ploits the principle of the Weierstrass-sphere solid immersion lens to reach a numerical aperture (NA) of 0.92. Tailored to the requirements of optical lattice experiments, the objective lens features a relatively long working distance of 150 μm. Our two-lens design is remarkably insensitive to mechanical tolerances in spite of the large NA. Additionally, we demonstrate the application of a tapered optical fiber tip, as used in scanning near-field optical microscopy, to measure the point spread function of a high NA optical system. From the point spread function, we infer the wavefront aberration for the entire field of view of about 75 μm. Pushing the NA of an optical system to its ultimate limit enables novel applications in quantum technolo- gies such as quantum control of atoms in optical mi- crotraps with an unprecedented spatial resolution and photon collection efficiency.

  • A. Alberti, C. Robens, W. Alt, S. Brakhane, M. Karski, R. Reimann, A. Widera and D. Meschede
    Super-resolution microscopy of single atoms in optical lattices, New J. Phys. 18, 053010 (2016)arXivBibTeXPDF

    We report on image processing techniques and experimental procedures to determine the lattice-site positions of single atoms in an optical lattice with high reliability, even for limited acquisition time or optical resolution. Determining the positions of atoms beyond the diffraction limit relies on parametric deconvolution in close analogy to methods employed in super-resolution microscopy. We develop a deconvolution method that makes effective use of the prior knowledge of the optical transfer function, noise properties, and discreteness of the optical lattice. We show that accurate knowledge of the image formation process enables a dramatic improvement on the localization reliability. This allows us to demonstrate super-resolution of the atoms' position in closely packed ensembles where the separation between particles cannot be directly optically resolved. Furthermore, we demonstrate experimental methods to precisely reconstruct the point spread function with sub-pixel resolution from fluorescence images of single atoms, and we give a mathematical foundation thereof. We also discuss discretized image sampling in pixel detectors and provide a quantitative model of noise sources in electron multiplying CCD cameras. The techniques developed here are not only beneficial to neutral atom experiments, but could also be employed to improve the localization precision of trapped ions for ultra precise force sensing.

  • S. Brakhane
    The Quantum Walk Microscope, (2016), PhD thesisBibTeXPDF

    In this thesis, I present single-site detection of neutral atoms stored in a three-dimensional optical lattice using a numerical aperture objective lens (NAdesign = 0.92). The combination of high-resolution imaging with state-dependent trapping along two-direction of the lattice opens up the path towards quantum simulations via quantum walks. Suppressing the interactions of a quantum system with the environment is essential for all quantum simulation experiments. It demands a precise control of both the external magnetic (stray) fields and the polarization properties of laser beams inside the vacuum chamber. I designed a metal shielding to reduce magnetic field fluctuations and designed, assembled and characterized a novel ultra-high vacuum glass cell. The glass cell consists of special glass material and exhibits an ultra-low birefringence Δn of a few times 10−8 to highly suppress polarization disturbances originating from stress birefringence in vacuum windows. Furthermore, anti-reflection coatings avoid reflections on all window surfaces. The cell hosts the assembled vacuum-compatible objective, that exhibits a diffraction limited resolution of up to 453 nm and allows to optically resolve the spacing of the optical lattice. Fluorescence images of single trapped atoms are used to characterize the imaging system. The filling, orientation and geometry of the optical lattice is precisely reconstructed using positions of atoms that can be determined from fluorescence images. Furthermore, I present a scheme to realize state-dependent transport and discuss its robustness against experimental imperfections in a technical implementation. This transport scheme enable the realization of discrete-time quantum walks with neutral atoms in two dimensions. These quantum walks pave the way towards the simulation of artificial magnetic fields and topologically protected edge states.

  • T. Groh, S. Brakhane, W. Alt, D. Meschede, J. Asbóth and A. Alberti
    Robustness of topologically protected edge states in quantum walk experiments with neutral atoms, Phys. Rev. A (editor's suggestion) 94, 013620 (2016)arXivBibTeXPDF

    Discrete-time quantum walks allow Floquet topological insulator materials to be explored using controllable systems such as ultracold atoms in optical lattices. By numerical simulations, we study the robustness of topologically protected edge states in the presence of decoherence in one- and two-dimensional discrete-time quantum walks. We also develop a simple analytical model quantifying the robustness of these edge states against either spin or spatial dephasing, predicting an exponential decay of the population of topologically protected edge states. Moreover, we present an experimental proposal based on neutral atoms in spin-dependent optical lattices to realize spatial boundaries between distinct topological phases. Our proposal relies on a new scheme to implement spin-dependent discrete shift operations in a two-dimensional optical lattice. We analyze under realistic decoherence conditions the experimental feasibility of observing unidirectional, dissipationless transport of matter waves along boundaries separating distinct topological domains.

  • S. Brakhane and A. Alberti
    Technical Note: Stress-Induced Birefringence in Vacuum Systems, White paper, (2016)BibTeXPDF

    Even scientific grade optical glasses show birefringence when small external forces are applied to the sample. Stress-induced birefringence can be particularly detrimental to the state of polarization of light when a laser beam is transmitted through the glass. This is especially the case for glass windows of a vacuum chamber. Since compensation of spatially inhomogeneous birefringence is extremely challenging, it should be prevented by proper design of the vacuum chamber. Birefringence below 0.2 nm/cm can be achieved by thoroughly choosing glass material with low stress optical coefficient and mounting geometry. Applications strongly depend on light polarization are quantum technologies such as precision metrology, quantum computation and quantum simulations based on ions or atoms.

  • S. Brakhane, W. Alt, D. Meschede, C. Robens, G. Moon and A. Alberti
    Ultra-low birefringence dodecagonal vacuum glass cell, Rev. Sci. Instrum. 86, 126108 (2015)arXivBibTeXPDF

    We report on an ultra-low birefringence dodecagonal glass cell for ultra-high vacuum applications. The epoxy-bonded trapezoidal windows of the cell are made of SF57 glass, which exhibits a very low stress-induced birefringence. We characterize the birefringence Δn of each window with the cell under vacuum conditions, obtaining values around 10-8. After baking the cell at 150 ºC, we reach a pressure below 10-10 mbar. In addition, each window is antireflection coated on both sides, which is highly desirable for quantum optics experiments and precision measurements.

  • S. Brakhane, W. Alt, D. Meschede, C. Robens and A. Alberti
    Polarisationserhaltende Vakuum-Zelle zur Anwendung oder Messung elektromagnetischer Wellen im Vakuum, Patent pending, (2015)BibTeX

    Die Erfindung betrifft ein Verfahren, eine Vorrichtung und die Verwendung einer Vorrichtung zur Anwendung oder Messung polarisierter elektromagnetischer Strahlung im Vakuum, wobei die Doppelbrechung Δn < 10-6 beträgt.

  • C. Robens, S. Brakhane, D. Meschede and A. Alberti
    Quantum Walks With Neutral Atoms: Quantum Interference Effects of One and Two Particles, Proceedings of the XXII International Conference ICOLS, (2015)arXivBibTeX

    We report on the state of the art of quantum walk experiments with neutral atoms in state-dependent optical lattices. We demonstrate a novel state-dependent transport technique enabling the control of two spin-selective sublattices in a fully independent fashion. This transport technique allowed us to carry out a test of single-particle quantum interference based on the violation of the Leggett-Garg inequality and, more recently, to probe two-particle quantum interference effects with neutral atoms cooled into the motional ground state. These experiments lay the groundwork for the study of discrete-time quantum walks of strongly interacting, indistinguishable particles to demonstrate quantum cellular automata of neutral atoms.

  • S. Brakhane, W. Alt, T. Kampschulte, M. Martinez-Dorantes, R. Reimann, S. Yoon, A. Widera and D. Meschede
    Bayesian Feedback Control of a Two-Atom Spin-State in an Atom-Cavity System, Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 173601 (2012)arXivBibTeXPDF

    We experimentally demonstrate real-time feedback control of the joint spin-state of two neutral Caesium atoms inside a high finesse optical cavity. The quantum states are discriminated by their different cavity transmission levels. A Bayesian update formalism is used to estimate state occupation probabilities as well as transition rates. We stabilize the balanced two-atom mixed state, which is deterministically inaccessible, via feedback control and find very good agreement with Monte-Carlo simulations. On average, the feedback loops achieves near optimal conditions by steering the system to the target state marginally exceeding the time to retrieve information about its state.

  • S. Brakhane
    Kontrolle der Atom-Resonator-Wechselwirkung mit Hilfe einer Regelschleife, (2011), Diplom thesisBibTeXPDF
  • T. Kampschulte, W. Alt, S. Brakhane, M. Eckstein, R. Reimann, A. Widera and D. Meschede
    Optical control of the refractive index of a single atom, Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 153603 (2010)arXivBibTeXPDF

    We experimentally demonstrate the elementary case of electromagnetically induced transparency with a single atom inside an optical cavity probed by a weak field. We observe the modification of the dispersive and absorptive properties of the atom by changing the frequency of a control light field. Moreover, a strong cooling effect has been observed at two-photon resonance, increasing the storage time of our atoms twenty-fold to about 16 seconds. Our result points towards all-optical switching with single photons.