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Wednesday, June 11 2014: Challenged to describe our research using only the ten one hundred most common words, here is what Wes came up with: We make fast computers from tiny pieces of air.  We point light at little air parts to make them ice cold, then make them jump around and hit into each other.  We can see the answer at the end by how they look, dark or bright.  Dark parts mean one answer, bright parts mean another.  Even though this computer is tiny, we can beat a great big one, because very cold, very small stuff  can do more than one thing at the same time. + continue reading
Friday, May 30 2014: The ion team has seen their first 174Yb ion in the new four rod trap. This linear trap consists of four 50 µm diameter wires which are spaced 350 µm from each other. The rods are held and separated by a fused silica piece which was fabricated by Translume in Ann Arbor. In the picture these fused silica pieces are attached to a monolithic stainless steel trap mount. In order from preventing the atoms escaping the trap two endcaps have been added to which we apply DC voltages. In the top right a microscope image of the fused silica piece is shown. + continue reading
Friday, February 28 2014: Mode-locked lasers may be the key to producing large samples of cold molecules, as discussed in a paper published this week in Phys. Rev. A (see Publications).  Andrew Jayich et al. describe a method for using picosecond pulses to decelerate molecules and single photons to cool the resulting sample to sub-cryogenic temperatures.  This scheme involves a technique known as Adiabatic Rapid Passage, the details of which are revealed in beautiful color plots such as the one shown here. + continue reading
Friday, January 17 2014: The ACME Collaboration has published the first-generation results of a precise measurement of the shape of the electron.  Theories such as (generic) supersymmetry tend to predict that the bumps on the electron will become visible when we look for them with this sensitivity.  So far, the electron still appears to be perfectly round (see Publications).  This result compliments recent work in the high-energy regime at the LHC, and while these results may not difinitively rule out a given specific theory, it has been suggested that these measurements seem to be leaving less and less "wiggle room" for otherwise unconstrained parameters in certain extensions beyond the Standard Model of particle physics. + continue reading
Sunday, November 24 2013: The image (taken with Wes's phone) shows red laser beam shining through a gas of rubidium atoms, which makes the laser beam appear blue.  The effect responsible is called a 2-photon transition, and gives rise to a process whereby an atom can emit photons that have more energy than each of those that it absorbed, which may at first seem impossible.  This well-known effect is used in many applications, and is undoubtedly very cool looking. + continue reading
Monday, November 18 2013: Prof. Campbell presented a public lecture at the Exploring Your Universe event at UCLA.  The talk was entitled "Your Smartphone is Made of Science" and focused on making connections between basic science and the amazing technology in the common modern cell phone.  Topics included GPS, the Hall effect, and MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes. + continue reading
Thursday, October 31 2013: Prototype of the new ion trap. The ring-shaped trap is machined into fused silica. The tunnels aligned in a star shape will provide optical access for cooling and repump beams to trap Ytterbium. The tapered tunnel will deliver radio frequency to the trap region. Right now the samples are being sputtered with gold - ready to undergo first experimental tests. Samples are produced by Translume in Ann Arbor. + continue reading
Friday, September 20 2013: View inside a quantum simulator--testing and construction of a new ion trap is underway.  The new trap is designed to provide good optical access from two sides and crystalize ions in a pancake, but there are significant technical hurdles to overcome before getting to that point.  We hope that a monolithic design will make the new trap robust and reduce mechanical imprefections that show up in multi-structure traps.  + continue reading
Monday, June 3 2013: The ion experiment team has cooled and trapped atomic ions in the "nozzle trap."  The trapped species are singly-ionized atoms of ytterbium, which can be detected by directly imaging their laser-induced fluorescence on a CCD camera.  The (false color) image shows a single atom (the red spot) in the trap, where the weak background features are caused by scatter from the lasers off of the chamber windows.  The atom is levitated in the middle of the vacuum chamber using an RF Paul trap, which explains why one can see a single atom with a very modest microscope--there are no atoms anywhere near the trapped one to confuse the image, and we can get a very clean signature of a single atomic ion in this way.  Multiple ions will be trapped in the same trap simultaneously in the future, where we plan to use each one to encode the quantum information of a single... + continue reading
Thursday, April 18 2013: The trapped ion quantum simulation team has assembled their first ion trap and is pumping out the vacuum chamber.  The ion trap itself (we call it the "nozzle trap") is made from three primary electrodes, each of which is a commerical product intended for other uses that we have repurposed to imprison ytterbium ions.  In the image, a very thin metal sheet with a pinhole in the middle sits just below a conical metal endacap electrode.  There is another endcap just below the pinhole, and ions will be trapped in the plane of the hole when DC and radio-frequency voltages are applied to the electrodes.  The silly-looking wires coming in from the sides will be used to make small corrections to imperfections in the trap potential.  The whole setup must be operated in ultra-high vacuum to inhibit collisions between the trapped ions and background gas atoms, so... + continue reading

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