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September 24th 2017

While wireless networks and gases of Rydberg atoms may seem entirely disparate, a closer examination reveals otherwise. In cold Rydberg gases, the atoms that are close to each other experience a blockade effect, meaning that only one atom at a time can be in an excited state. In wireless networks, a communications protocol prevents neighbouring users from transmitting simultaneously so as to avoid interference. These blockade effects and digital rules of conduct result in complicated, yet similar, large-scale system behaviour.

The researchers have combined insights from mathematics and physics. Their article demonstrates how wireless networks and Rydberg gases can be described using the same mathematical equations, and under which conditions. Subsequently, the scientists apply a new distributed control technique designed for wireless networks to the Rydberg gas, resulting in a novel theoretical method to exert control over so-called mixed-state populations in Rydberg gases. 

Researcher Dr.ir. Servaas Kokkelmans: "The new technique is of interest for mixed-state quantum computing, which lies between classical computers and quantum computers in terms of efficiency. But ultimately, the creation of mixed states can also contribute to the development of quantum computers, that are based on pure, entangled quantum states. In addition, our interdisciplinary approach provides a foundation for future cross-fertilization in areas of quantum mechanics, statistical physics, and stochastic operations research."

Wireless network control of interacting Rydberg atoms, Physical Review Letters, 22 April 2014.

The research is conducted by Jaron Sanders (Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science), Rick van Bijnen, Edgar Vredenbregt and Servaas Kokkelmans (Faculty of Applied Physics).

Servaas Kokkelmans +31 (0)40 247 33 57.