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Quantum technologies

Dieter Meschede's research group
Home Group members Carsten Robens
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Dipl.-Phys. Carsten Robens
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Postdoc
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Few-atom quantum systems
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Publications(up to 2017)

  • C. Robens
    Testing the Quantumness of Atom Trajectories, (2017), PhD thesisBibTeXPDF
    ABSTRACT »

    This thesis reports on a novel concept of state-dependent transport, which achieves an unprecedented control over the position of individual atoms in optical lattices. Utilizing this control I demonstrate an experimental violation of the Leggett Garg inequality, which rigorously excludes (i.e. falsifies) any explanation of quantum transport based on classical, well-defined trajectories. Furthermore, I demonstrate the generation of arbitrary low-entropy states of neutral atoms following a bottom-up approach by rearranging a dilute thermal ensemble into a predefined, ordered distribution in a one-dimensional optical lattice. Additionally, I probe two-particle quantum interference effects of two atom trajectories by realizing a microwave Hong-Ou-Mandel interferometer with massive particles, which are cooled into the vibrational ground state.

    The first part of this thesis reports on several new experimental tools and techniques: three-dimensional ground state cooling of single atoms, which are trapped in the combined potential of a polarization-synthesized optical lattice and a blue-detuned hollow dipole potential; A high-NA (0.92) objective lens achieving a diffraction limited resolution of 460 nm; and an improved super-resolution algorithm, which resolves the position of individual atoms in small clusters at high filling factors, even when each lattice site is occupied.

    The next part is devoted to the 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, I provide a proof of concept that selected regions of the periodic potential can be filled with one particle per site.

    In the following part I report on a stringent test of the non-classicality of the motion of a massive quantum particle, which propagates on a discrete lattice. Measuring temporal correlations of the position of single atoms performing a quantum walk, we observe a 6 σ (standard deviation) violation of the Leggett-Garg inequality. The experiment is carried out using so-called ideal negative measurements – an essential requisite for any genuine Leggett-Garg test – which acquire information about the atom’s position while avoiding any direct interaction with it. This interaction-free measurement is based on our polarization-synthesized optical lattice, which allows us to directly probe the absence rather than the presence of atoms at a chosen lattice site. Beyond its fundamental aspect, I demonstrate the application of the Leggett-Garg correlation function as a witness of quantum superposition. The witness allows us to discriminate the quantumness of different types of walks spanning from merely classical to quantum dynamics and further to witness the decoherence of a quantum state.

    In the last experimental part I will discuss recent results on collisional losses due to inelastic collisions occurring at high two-atom densities and demonstrate a Hong-Ou-Mandel interference with massive particles. Our precise control over individual indistinguishable particles embodies a direct analogue of the original Hong-Ou-Mandel experiment. By carrying out a Monte Carlo analysis of our experimental data, I demonstrate a signature of the two-particle interference of two-atom trajectories with a statistical significance of 4 σ.

    In the final part I will introduce several new experiments which can be realized with the tools and techniques developed in this thesis, spanning from the detection of topologically protected edge states to the prospect of building a one-million-operation quantum cellular automaton.

  • 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
    ABSTRACT »

    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
    ABSTRACT »

    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
    ABSTRACT »

    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
    ABSTRACT »

    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.

  • C. Robens, W. Alt, C. Emary, D. Meschede and A. Alberti
    Atomic "bomb testing": the Elitzur-Vaidman experiment violates the Leggett-Garg inequality, Appl. Phys. B 123, 12 (2016)arXivBibTeXPDF
    ABSTRACT »

    Elitzur and Vaidman have proposed a measurement scheme that, based on the quantum superposition principle, allows one to detect the presence of an object—in a dramatic scenario, a bomb—without interacting with it. It was pointed out by Ghirardi that this interaction-free measurement scheme can be put in direct relation with falsification tests of the macro-realistic worldview. Here we have implemented the "bomb test" with a single atom trapped in a spin-dependent optical lattice to show explicitly a violation of the Leggett-Garg inequality—a quantitative criterion fulfilled by macro-realistic physical theories. To perform interaction-free measurements, we have implemented a novel measurement method that correlates spin and position of the atom. This method, which quantum mechanically entangles spin and position, finds general application for spin measurements, thereby avoiding the shortcomings inherent in the widely used push-out technique. Allowing decoherence to dominate the evolution of our system causes a transition from quantum to classical behavior in fulfillment of the Leggett-Garg inequality.

  • 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
    ABSTRACT »

    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
    ABSTRACT »

    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
    ABSTRACT »

    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.

  • C. Robens, W. Alt, D. Meschede, C. Emary and A. Alberti
    Ideal Negative Measurements in Quantum Walks Disprove Theories Based on Classical Trajectories, Phys. Rev. X 5, 011003 (2015)arXivBibTeXPDF
    ABSTRACT »

    We report on a stringent test of the nonclassicality of the motion of a massive quantum particle, which propagates on a discrete lattice. Measuring temporal correlations of the position of single atoms performing a quantum walk, we observe a 6σ violation of the Leggett-Garg inequality. Our results rigorously excludes (i.e., falsifies) any explanation of quantum transport based on classical, well-defined trajectories. We use so-called ideal negative measurements—an essential requisite for any genuine Leggett-Garg test—to acquire information about the atom’s position, yet avoiding any direct interaction with it. The interaction-free measurement is based on a novel atom transport system, which allows us to directly probe the absence rather than the presence of atoms at a chosen lattice site. Beyond the fundamental aspect of this test, we demonstrate the application of the Leggett-Garg correlation function as a witness of quantum superposition. Here, we employ the witness to discriminate different types of walks spanning from merely classical to wholly quantum dynamics.

  • 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
    ABSTRACT »

    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.