Applications of atomic ensembles in distributed quantum computing

Marcin Zwierz and Pieter Kok

International Journal of Quantum Information 8, 181 (2010)

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The fragility of quantum information is a fundamental constraint faced by anyone trying to build a quantum computer. A truly useful and powerful quantum computer has to be a robust and scalable machine. In the case of many qubits that may interact with the environment and with its neighbours, protection against decoherence becomes quite a challenging task. The scalability and decoherence issues are the main difficulties that are addressed by the distributed model of quantum computation. A distributed quantum computer consists of a large quantum network of distant nodes - stationary qubits that communicate via flying qubits. The quantum information can be transferred, stored, processed and retrieved in decoherence-free fashion by nodes of quantum network realised by an atomic medium - an atomic quantum memory. Atomic quantum memories have been developed and demonstrated experimentally in recent years. With the help of linear optics and laser pulses one is able to manipulate quantum information stored inside an atomic quantum memory by means of electromagnetically induced transparency and associated propagation phenomena. Any quantum computation or communication necessarily involves entanglement. Therefore, one must be able to entangle distant nodes of distributed network. In this article, we focus on the probabilistic entanglement generation procedures such as the well-known DLCZ protocol. We also demonstrate theoretically a scheme based on atomic ensembles and the dipole blockade mechanism for generation of inherently distributed quantum states so-called cluster states. In the protocol, atomic ensembles serve as single qubit systems. Hence, we review single-qubit operations on qubit defined as collective states of atomic ensemble. Our entangling protocol requires nearly identical single-photon sources, one ultra-cold ensemble per physical qubit, and regular photodetectors. The general entangling procedure is presented, as well as a procedure that generates in a single step Q-qubit GHZ states with success probability psuccess = ηQ/2, where η is the combined detection and source efficiency. This is significantly more efficient than any known robust probabilistic entangling operation. The GHZ states form the basic building block for universal cluster states, a resource for the one-way quantum computer.

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