r""".. _trapped_ions:
Trapped ion quantum computers
=============================
.. meta::
:property="og:description": Learn all about trapped ion quantum computers, developed by companies such as IonQ and Honeywell.
:property="og:image": https://pennylane.ai/qml/_images/trapped_ions_tn.png
.. related::
tutorial_pasqal Quantum computation with neutral atoms
tutorial_sc_qubits Quantum computing with superconducting qubits
tutorial_photonics Photonic quantum computers
*Author: Alvaro Ballon — Posted: 10 November 2021. Last updated: 26 August 2022.*
The race for quantum advantage is on!
A host of competitors are using different technologies to build a useful quantum
computer. Some common approaches are **trapped ions,
:doc:`superconducting qubits `, and
:doc:`photonics `, among others. Discussing whether there
is a superior framework leads to a neverending debate. All of them pose
complex technological challenges, which we can only solve through
innovation, inventiveness, hard work, and a bit of luck. It is difficult
to predict whether these problems are solvable in a given timeframe.
More often than not, our predictions have been wrong. Forecasting the winner
of this race is not easy at all!
Here, we introduce **trapped ion quantum
computers**. It is the preferred technology that research groups use at
several universities around the world, and at research companies like
`Honeywell `_ and `IonQ `_.
In particular, Honeywell has achieved a
:doc:`quantum volume `
of 128, the largest in the market! As the name suggests, the
qubits are ions trapped by electric fields and manipulated with lasers.
Trapped ions have relatively long coherence times, which means that the qubits are
long-lived. Moreover, they can easily interact with their neighbours.
Scalability is a challenge, but, as we will see, there are
innovative ways to get around them.
After reading this demo, you will learn how trapped ion quantum computers
prepare, evolve, and measure quantum states. In particular, you will gain
knowledge on how single and multi-qubit gates are implemented and how we can
simulate them using PennyLane. You will also identify the features that
make trapped ion quantum computers an appropriate physical implementation, and where the
technical challenges lie, in terms of **DiVincenzo's criteria** (see box below).
Finally, you will become familiar with the concepts required to understand recent articles on the topic
and read future papers to keep up-to-date with the most recent developments.
.. container:: alert alert-block alert-info
**Di Vincenzo's criteria**: In the year 2000, David DiVincenzo proposed a
wishlist for the experimental characteristics of a quantum computer [#DiVincenzo2000]_.
DiVincenzo's criteria have since become the main guideline for
physicists and engineers building quantum computers:
1. **Well-characterized and scalable qubits**. Many of the quantum systems that
we find in nature are not qubits, so we must find a way to make them behave as such.
Moreover, we need to put many of these systems together.
2. **Qubit initialization**. We must be able to prepare the same state repeatedly within
an acceptable margin of error.
3. **Long coherence times**. Qubits will lose their quantum properties after
interacting with their environment for a while. We would like them to last long
enough so that we can perform quantum operations.
4. **Universal set of gates**. We need to perform arbitrary operations on the
qubits. To do this, we require both single-qubit gates and two-qubit gates.
5. **Measurement of individual qubits**. To read the result of a quantum algorithm,
we must accurately measure the final state of a pre-chosen set of qubits.
"""
##############################################################################
#
# How to trap an ion
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
#
# Why do we use ions, i.e., charged atoms, as qubits? The main reason
# is that they can be contained (that is, trapped) in one precise location using electric fields. It is
# possible to contain neutral atoms using optical tweezers, but our focus
# is on ions, which can be contained using an electromagnetic trap. Ion traps
# are rather old technology: their history goes back to 1953 when Wolfgang
# Paul proposed his now-called Paul trap [#Paul1953]_. For this invention, Paul and
# Dehmelt were awarded the 1989 Physics Nobel Prize, since it is used to make highly
# precise atomic clocks. Current trapped ion quantum computers extensively
# use the Paul trap, but Paul won the prize six years before such an
# application was proposed [#CiracZoller]_!
#
# It is not easy to create electric fields that contain the ion in a tiny
# region of space. The ideal configuration of an electric field
# —also known as a *potential*— would look like this:
#
# .. figure:: ../demonstrations/trapped_ions/confining.png
# :align: center
# :width: 70%
#
# ..
#
# Confining potential
#
# The potential should be interpreted as a wall that the ion must climb
# over to escape from a physical region. Positively charged ions will always roll
# down from regions of high potential to low potential. So if we can
# achieve an electric potential like the above, the ion should remain
# trapped in the pit. However, using the laws of electrostatics, we can
# show that it is impossible to create a confining potential with only
# static electric fields. Instead, they produce saddle-shaped potentials:
#
# .. figure:: ../demonstrations/trapped_ions/saddle_potential.png
# :align: center
# :width: 70%
#
# ..
#
# Saddle-shaped potential allowed by electrostatics
#
# This potential is problematic since the ion is contained in one
# direction but could escape in the perpendicular direction. Therefore,
# the solution is to use time-dependent electric fields to allow the
# potential wall to move. What would happen, for example, if we rotated
# the potential plotted above? We can imagine that if the saddle potential
# rotates at a specific frequency, the wall will catch the ion as it tries
# to escape in the downhill direction. Explicitly, the electric potential
# that we generate is given by [#Malinowski]_
#
# .. math:: \Phi = \frac{1}{2}\left(u_x x^2 + u_y y^2 + u_z z^2\right) + \frac{1}{2}\left(v_x x^2 + v_y y^2 + v_z z^2\right)\cos(\omega t+\phi).
#
# The parameters :math:`u_i`, :math:`v_i`, and :math:`\phi` need to be
# adjusted to the charge and mass of the ion and to the potential's
# angular frequency :math:`\omega`. We have to tune these
# parameters very carefully, since the ion could escape if we do not apply
# the right forces at the right time. It takes a lot of care, but this
# technique is so old that it is almost perfect by now. Here is what the
# rotating potential would look like:
#
# .. figure:: ../demonstrations/trapped_ions/Rotating.gif
# :align: center
# :width: 70%
#
# ..
#
# A rotating potential with the correct frequency and magnitude
# can contain an ion
#
# We want to make a quantum computer, so having one qubit cannot be
# enough. We would like as many as we can possibly afford! The good news
# is that we have the technology to trap many ions and put them close
# together in a one-dimensional array, called an ion chain. Why do we need
# this particular configuration? To manipulate the qubits, we need the
# system of ions to absorb photons. However, shooting a photon at an ion
# can cause relative motion between ions. The
# proximity between qubits will cause unwanted interactions, which could
# modify their state. Happily, there is a solution to this issue: we place
# the ions in a sufficiently spaced one-dimensional array and **cool them
# all down to the point where their motion in space is quantized**. In
# this scenario, photons that would bring the ion to their excited states
# will not cause any relative motion. Instead, all ions will recoil
# together [#NandC2000]_. This phenomenon is called the **Mossbauer effect**. We will
# see later that by carefully tuning the laser frequency, we can control
# both the excitations of the ions and the motion of the ion chain. This
# user-controlled motion is precisely what we need to perform quantum
# operations with two qubits.
#
# Trapped ions as robust qubits
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
#
# Now that we know how to trap ions, we would like to use them as qubits.
# Would any ion out there work well as a qubit? In fact, only a select few
# isotopes will do the trick. The reason is that our qubit basis states
# are the ground and excited states of an electron in the atom, and we
# need to be able to transition between them using laser light. Therefore,
# we would like the atom to have an excited state that is long-lived, and
# also one that we may manipulate using frequencies that lasers can
# produce. Thanks to semiconductor laser technology, we have a wide range
# of frequencies that we can use in the visible and infrared ranges, so
# getting the desired frequency is not too much of a problem. The best
# ions for our purposes are single-charged ions in Group II of the
# periodic table, such as Calcium-40, Beryllium-9, and Barium-138,
# commonly used in university laboratories [#Bergou2021]_. The rare earth Ytterbium-171 is
# used by IonQ and Honeywell. These elements have two *valence electrons*,
# but their ionized version only has one. The valence electron is not so
# tightly bound to the atom, so it is the one whose state we use to represent a
# qubit.
#
# .. container:: alert alert-block alert-info
#
# **Atomic Physics Primer:** Atoms consist of a positively charged nucleus
# and negative electrons around them. The electrons inhabit energy
# levels, which have a population limit. As the levels fill up, the
# electrons occupy higher and higher energy levels. But as long as
# there is space, electrons can change energy levels, with a preference
# for the lower ones. This can happen spontaneously or due to external
# influences.
#
# When the lower energy levels are not occupied, the higher energy levels
# are unstable: electrons will prefer to minimize their energy and jump to
# a lower level on their own. What happens when an electron jumps from
# a high energy level to a lower one? Conservation of energy tells us
# that the energy must go somewhere. Indeed, a photon with an energy
# equal to the energy lost by the electron is emitted. This energy is
# proportional to the frequency (colour) of the photon.
#
# Conversely, we can use laser light to induce the opposite process.
# When an electron is in a stable or ground state, we can use lasers
# with their frequency set roughly to the difference
# in energy levels, or energy gap, between the ground state and an
# excited state . If a photon hits an electron, it will go to that
# higher energy state. When the light stimulus is removed, the excited
# electrons will return to stable states. The time it takes them to do
# so depends on the particular excited state they are in since,
# sometimes, the laws of physics will make it harder for electrons to
# jump back on their own.
#
# .. figure:: ../demonstrations/trapped_ions/atomic.png
# :align: center
# :width: 60%
#
# ..
#
# Photons with an energy equal to the atomic gap drive excitations
#
#
# Having chosen the ions that will act as our qubits, we need to prepare
# them in a stable fiducial state, known as the **ground state** and
# denoted by :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle`. The preparation is done
# by a procedure called **optical pumping**. To understand how it works, let us
# take Calcium-40 as an example. In this case, the electron has two stable
# states with the same energy, but different direction of rotation.
# We denote these by :math:`\left\lvert g_1 \right\rangle` and
# :math:`\left\lvert g_2\right\rangle`. We do not know which stable state
# the electron is in, and we would like to ensure that the electron is in
# the :math:`\left\lvert g_1\right\rangle` state. This will be our chosen
# fiducial state, so
# :math:`\left\lvert g\right\rangle = \left\lvert g_1\right\rangle`.
# However, quantum mechanics forbids a direct transition between these two
# stable states. To get from one state to the other, the electron
# would have to change its rotation without giving out any energy, which
# is impossible! But we can take a detour: we use circularly polarized
# laser light of a particular wavelength (397nm for Calcium-40) to excite
# :math:`\left\lvert g_2\right\rangle` into a short-lived excited state
# :math:`\left\lvert \textrm{aux}\right\rangle`. This light does not
# stimulate any other transitions in the ion so that an electron in the
# ground state :math:`\left\lvert g_1\right\rangle` will remain there.
# Quantum mechanics tells us that, in a matter of nanoseconds, the excited electron
# decays to our desired ground state :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle`
# with probability 1/3, but returns to
# :math:`\left\lvert g_2 \right\rangle` otherwise. For this reason, we
# need to repeat the procedure many times, gradually "pumping" the
# electrons in all (or the vast majority of) our ions to the ground state.
#
# .. figure:: ../demonstrations/trapped_ions/pumping.png
# :align: center
# :width: 60%
#
# ..
#
# Optical pumping to prepare the ground state
#
# What about the other basis qubit state? It will be a long-lived excited
# state, denoted by :math:`\left\lvert e \right\rangle`. For the
# Calcium-40 ion, this state is a *metastable state:* a state that
# has a sufficiently long lifetime since quantum mechanics restricts, but
# does not entirely forbid, transitions to a lower energy level. For
# example, the metastable state of Calcium-40 has a half-life of about 1
# second. While apparently short, most quantum operations can be performed
# on a timescale of micro to milliseconds. The energy difference between the ground and
# excited state corresponds to a laser frequency of 729nm, achievable with
# an infrared laser. Therefore, we call this an **optical qubit**. An
# alternative is to use an ion, such as Calcium-43, that has a *hyperfine
# structure*, which means that the ground and excited states are separated by a very small
# energy gap. In this case, the higher energy state has a virtually
# infinite lifespan, since it is only slightly different
# from the stable ground state. We can use a procedure similar to optical pumping to
# transition between these two states, so while coherence times are longer
# for these **hyperfine qubits**, gate implementation is more complicated
# and needs a lot of precision.
#
# .. figure:: ../demonstrations/trapped_ions/hyperfine.png
# :align: center
# :width: 60%
#
# ..
#
# Optical vs. hyperfine qubits
#
# We have now learned how trapped ions make for very stable qubits that
# allow us to implement many quantum operations without decohering too
# soon. We have also learned how to prepare these qubits in a stable
# ground state. Does this mean that we have already satisfied DiVincezo's
# first, second, and third criteria? We have definitely fulfilled the
# second one since optical pumping is a very robust method. However, we
# have mainly been focusing on a single qubit and, since we have not
# discussed scalability yet, we have not fully satisfied the first
# criterion. Introducing more ions will pose additional challenges to
# meeting the third criterion. For now, let us focus on how to satisfy
# criteria 4 and 5, and we will come back to these issues once we discuss
# what happens when we deal with multiple ions.
#
# Non-demolition measurements
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
#
# Let us now discuss the last step in a quantum computation: measuring the
# qubits. Since it takes quite a bit of work to trap an ion, it would be
# ideal if we could measure the state of our qubits without it escaping
# from the trap. We definitely do not want to trap ions again after performing
# one measurement. Moreover, we want measurements that can be repeated
# on the same ions and yield consistent results. These are called **non-demolition
# measurements**, and they are easy enough to carry out for trapped ions.
#
# The measurement method uses a similar principle to that of optical
# pumping. Once again, and continuing with the Calcium-40 example, we make
# use of the auxiliary state. This time, we shine a laser light wavelength
# of 397 nm that drives the transition from
# :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle` to the auxiliary state
# :math:`\left\lvert \textrm{aux} \right\rangle`. The transition is
# short-lived; it will quickly go back to :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle`,
# emitting a photon of the same wavelength. The state
# :math:`\left\lvert e \right\rangle` is not affected. Therefore,
# we will measure :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle` if
# we see the ion glowing: it continuously emits light at a wavelength of
# 397 nm. Conversely, if the ion is dark, we will have measured the result
# corresponding to state :math:`\left\lvert e\right\rangle`. To see the
# photons emitted by the ions, we need to collect the photons using a lens
# and a photomultiplier, a device that transforms weak light signals into
# electric currents.
#
# .. figure:: ../demonstrations/trapped_ions/measurement.png
# :align: center
# :width: 60%
#
# ..
#
# Non-demolition measurement of ion states
#
# Have we fully satisfied the fifth criterion? Via a careful experimental
# arrangement, we can detect the emission of photons of each atom
# individually, so we are on the right track. But in reality, there is
# also some uncertainty in the measurement. In many quantum computing
# algorithms, we only measure the state of a pre-chosen set of ions called
# the **ancilla**. If these ions emit light, they can accidentally excite
# other ions on the chain, causing decoherence. A way to avoid this source
# of uncertainty is to use two species of ions: one for the ancilla and
# one for the qubits that are not measured, or **logical qubits**.
# In this case, the ions emitted by the ancilla ions would not excite the
# logical qubits. However, using two different species of ions causes
# extra trouble when we want to implement arbitrary qubit operations [#Hughes2020]_.
#
# Rabi oscillations to manipulate single qubits
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
#
# How do we make single-qubit quantum gates? Namely, is there a way to put the electron in a
# superposition of the ground and excited states? Since we aim to change
# the energy state of an electron, we have no choice but to continue using
# lasers to shoot photons at it, tuning the frequency to the
# energy gap. To understand how we would achieve a superposition by
# interacting with the ion using light, let us look at a mathematical
# operator called the *Hamiltonian*. In physics, the Hamiltonian describes
# the motion and external forces around an object we want to study. One of
# the main difficulties encountered in quantum mechanics is determining
# the correct Hamiltonian for a system. In our case, this work has already
# been done by quantum optics experts. After many simplifications
# involving some approximations, we find that the Hamiltonian that
# describes an electron in an ion resonant to the laser light is given by
# the operator
#
# .. math:: \hat{H}=\frac{\hbar\Omega}{2}\left(S_+ e^{i\varphi}+S_{-}e^{-i\varphi}\right).
#
# Here, :math:`\Omega` is the **Rabi frequency**. It is defined by
# :math:`\Omega=\mu_m B/2\hbar`, where :math:`B` is the applied magnetic
# field due to the laser, and :math:`\mu_m` is the magnetic moment of the
# ion. The phase :math:`\varphi` measures the initial displacement of the
# light wave at the atom's position. The matrices :math:`S_+` and
# :math:`S_-` are
#
# .. math:: S_+=\left( \begin{array}{cc} 0 & 0 \\ 1 & 0\end{array}\right), \qquad S_-=\left( \begin{array}{cc} 0 & 1 \\ 0 & 0\end{array}\right).
#
# Hamiltonians in physics are helpful because they tell us how systems
# change with time in the presence of external interactions. In quantum
# mechanics, Hamiltonians are represented by matrices, and the evolution of a system is
# calculated using Schrödinger's equation. When the Hamiltonian does not
# depend on time, a qubit starting in state
# :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle` will evolve into the following
# time-dependent state:
#
# .. math:: \left\lvert \psi(t)\right\rangle = \exp(-i \hat{H} t/\hbar)\left\lvert g \right\rangle,
#
# where :math:`\exp` denotes the matrix exponential and :math:`t` is
# the duration of the interaction, which is controlled using *pulses*, i.e., short
# bursts of light. We do not need to
# elaborate on how matrix exponentials are calculated, since we can
# implement them using the scipy library in Python. Let us see how our
# basis states :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle` and
# :math:`\left\lvert e \right\rangle` (:math:`\left\lvert 0 \right\rangle` and
# :math:`\left\lvert 1 \right\rangle` in PennyLane) evolve under the action of this
# Hamiltonian. First, we write a function that returns the matrix exponential
# :math:`\exp(-i \hat{H} t/\hbar)` as a function of :math:`\varphi` and the
# duration :math:`t` of the pulse, with :math:`\Omega` set to 100 kHz.
import pennylane as qml
from pennylane import numpy as np
from scipy.linalg import expm
Omega = 100
S_plus = np.array([[0, 0], [1, 0]])
S_minus = np.array([[0, 1], [0, 0]])
def evolution(phi, t):
Ham = Omega / 2 * (S_plus * np.exp(1j * phi) + S_minus * np.exp(-1j * phi))
return expm(-1j * Ham * t)
##############################################################################
# With this operator implemented, we can determine the sequences of pulses that
# produce common gates. For example, there is a combination of pulses
# with different phases and durations that yield the Hadamard gate:
dev = qml.device("default.qubit", wires=1)
@qml.qnode(dev)
def ion_hadamard(state):
if state == 1:
qml.PauliX(wires=0)
"""We use a series of seemingly arbitrary pulses that will give the Hadamard gate.
Why this is the case will become clear later"""
qml.QubitUnitary(evolution(0, -np.pi / 2 / Omega), wires=0)
qml.QubitUnitary(evolution(np.pi / 2, np.pi / 2 / Omega), wires=0)
qml.QubitUnitary(evolution(0, np.pi / 2 / Omega), wires=0)
qml.QubitUnitary(evolution(np.pi / 2, np.pi / 2 / Omega), wires=0)
qml.QubitUnitary(evolution(0, np.pi / 2 / Omega), wires=0)
return qml.state()
#For comparison, we use the Hadamard built into PennyLane
@qml.qnode(dev)
def hadamard(state):
if state == 1:
qml.PauliX(wires=0)
qml.Hadamard(wires=0)
return qml.state()
#We confirm that the values given by both functions are the same up to numerical error
print(np.isclose(1j * ion_hadamard(0), hadamard(0)))
print(np.isclose(1j * ion_hadamard(1), hadamard(1)))
##############################################################################
# Note that the desired gate was obtained up to a global phase factor.
# A similar exercise can be done for the :math:`T` gate:
@qml.qnode(dev)
def ion_Tgate(state):
if state == 1:
qml.PauliX(wires=0)
qml.QubitUnitary(evolution(0, -np.pi / 2 / Omega), wires=0)
qml.QubitUnitary(evolution(np.pi / 2, np.pi / 4 / Omega), wires=0)
qml.QubitUnitary(evolution(0, np.pi / 2 / Omega), wires=0)
return qml.state()
@qml.qnode(dev)
def tgate(state):
if state == 1:
qml.PauliX(wires=0)
qml.T(wires=0)
return qml.state()
print(np.isclose(np.exp(1j * np.pi / 8) * ion_Tgate(0), tgate(0)))
print(np.isclose(np.exp(1j * np.pi / 8) * ion_Tgate(1), tgate(1)))
##############################################################################
# This PennyLane code shows that we can obtain a Hadamard gate and a
# :math:`T` gate using consecutive pulses with different times and phases. Namely,
# to get a Hadamard gate, we need five pulses, all of them with duration
# :math:`t=\frac{\pi}{2\Omega}`, where the second and the fourth pulse
# have a phase of :math:`\pi/2`. The Hadamard and :math:`T` gates together can be used to
# implement any operation on a single qubit, to an arbitrary degree of approximation. We
# see that timing and dephasing our laser pulses provides a versatile way
# to manipulate single qubits.
#
# To get a better idea about how the duration
# of the pulses affects the state that we generate, let us plot the probability
# of obtaining the state :math:`\left\lvert e \right\rangle` against the
# duration of the pulse for a fixed phase of :math:`\varphi = 0`.
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
@qml.qnode(dev)
def evolution_prob(t):
qml.QubitUnitary(evolution(0, t / Omega), wires=0)
return qml.probs(wires=0)
t = np.linspace(0, 4 * np.pi, 101)
s = [evolution_prob(i)[1].numpy() for i in t]
fig1, ax1 = plt.subplots(figsize=(9, 6))
ax1.plot(t, s, color="#9D2EC5")
ax1.set(
xlabel="time (in units of 1/Ω)",
ylabel="Probability",
title="Probability of measuring the excited state"
)
ax1.grid()
plt.show()
##############################################################################
# We see that the probability of obtaining the excited state changes with
# the duration of the pulse, reaching a maximum at a time
# :math:`t=\pi/\Omega`, and then vanishing at :math:`t=2\pi/\Omega`. This
# pattern keeps repeating itself and is known as a **Rabi oscillation**.
#
# In fact, we can solve the Schrödinger equation
# explicitly (feel free to do this if you want to practice solving
# differential equations!). If we do this, we can deduce that the
# ground state :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle` evolves to [#Bergou2021]_
#
# .. math:: \left\lvert \psi_0(t) \right\rangle = \cos\left(\frac{\Omega t}{2}\right)\left\lvert g \right\rangle -i\sin\left(\frac{\Omega t}{2}\right) e^{i\varphi}\left\lvert e \right\rangle .
#
# We observe that we can obtain an arbitrary superposition of qubits by
# adjusting the duration of the interaction and the phase. This means
# that we can produce any single-qubit gate! To be more precise, let us
# see what would happen if the initial state was
# :math:`\left\lvert e \right\rangle`. As before, we can show that the
# evolution is given by
#
# .. math:: \left\lvert \psi_1(t) \right\rangle = -i\sin\left(\frac{\Omega t}{2}\right)e^{-i\varphi}\left\lvert g \right\rangle +\cos\left(\frac{\Omega t}{2}\right)\left\lvert e \right\rangle .
#
# Therefore, the unitary induced by a laser pulse of amplitude
# :math:`B`, duration :math:`t`, and phase :math:`\varphi` on an ion
# with magnetic moment :math:`\mu_m` is
#
# .. math:: U(\Omega,\varphi,t)=\left( \begin{array}{cc} \cos\left(\frac{\Omega t}{2}\right) & -i\sin\left(\frac{\Omega t}{2}\right)e^{-i\varphi} \\ -i\sin\left(\frac{\Omega t}{2}\right)e^{i\varphi} & \cos\left(\frac{\Omega t}{2}\right)\end{array}\right),
#
# which has the form of a general rotation. Since we can generate
# arbitrary X and Y rotations using :math:`\varphi=0` and
# :math:`\varphi=\pi/2`, Rabi oscillations allow us to build a
# universal set of single-qubit gates.
#
# Achieving the required superpositions of quantum states requires precise
# control of the timing and phase of the pulse. This feat is not easy, but
# it is not the most challenging step towards creating a trapped-ion
# quantum computer. For typical Rabi frequencies of :math:`\Omega=100`
# kHz, the single-qubit gates can be implemented in a few milliseconds
# with high accuracy. Thus, we can implement quantum algorithms involving
# many gates even for the seemingly short lifespans of optical qubits. As
# a consequence, we have now satisfied the single-qubit gate requirement of criterion 4.
# The rest of this criterion is not theoretically difficult to implement.
# However, it can be experimentally challenging.
#
# The ion chain as a harmonic oscillator
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
#
# To fully address the fourth criterion, we need to create
# gates on two qubits. How can we
# achieve this? It turns out that placing ions in a
# chain is ideal for multiple-qubit gate implementations. When cooled
# down, the entire ion chain acts as a **quantum harmonic oscillator**,
# meaning that it can vibrate with energies that are multiples of Planck's
# constant :math:`\hbar` times a fundamental frequency
# :math:`\omega`:
#
# .. math:: E=n\hbar\omega.
#
# When the chain is oscillating with energy :math:`E=n\hbar\omega`, we
# denote the harmonic oscillator state, also known as **phonon state** or
# **motional state**, by :math:`\left\lvert n\right\rangle`. The harmonic
# oscillator can absorb and emit energy in multiples of
# :math:`\hbar\omega`, in packets of energy known as **phonons**.
# When we shine laser light on a particular atom of
# the ion chain, the entire chain could absorb the energy of the photons
# and start oscillating. However, we have seen that this does not happen
# when the atoms are cooled down and the light frequency matches the
# energy gap. Instead, the atom changes energy level, and we can
# manipulate a single qubit. But what happens when the frequency is away
# from this value? In most cases, it does nothing, but it will excite both
# the atom and the harmonic oscillator in some special circumstances. We
# can use the harmonic oscillator states as auxiliary states that will
# allow us to build two-qubit gates.
#
# Let us introduce some notation that will help us understand exactly how
# the two-qubit gates are implemented. When an ion is in the ground state
# :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle` and the chain is in the state
# :math:`\left\lvert n \right\rangle`, we will write the state as
# :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle \left\lvert n \right\rangle`, and
# similarly when the ion is in the excited state
# :math:`\left\lvert e \right\rangle`. If we are studying two ions at the
# same time, then we will write the states in the form
# :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle\left\lvert g \right\rangle\left\lvert n \right\rangle`,
# where the last :math:`\left\lvert n \right\rangle` always represents the
# state of the oscillating ion chain. Suppose that the ion's energy gap
# value is :math:`\Delta`, and we shine light of frequency
# :math:`\omega_b=\omega+\Delta` on a particular ion. If it is in the
# ground state, it will absorb an energy :math:`\Delta`, and the ion chain
# will absorb the rest. Therefore, this light frequency induces the
# following **blue sideband** transition:
#
# .. math:: \left\lvert g \right\rangle \left\lvert n \right\rangle \rightarrow \left\lvert e \right\rangle \left\lvert n+1\right\rangle.
#
# By using the frequency :math:`\omega_r=\Delta-\omega`, we can instead
# excite the ion and de-excite the ion chain, also known as a
# **red sideband** transition:
#
# .. math:: \left\lvert g \right\rangle \left\lvert n \right\rangle \rightarrow \left\lvert e \right\rangle \left\lvert n-1\right\rangle.
#
# Crucially, this frequency will do nothing if the ion chain is in the
# state of zero energy.
# If the light frequency is exactly :math:`\Delta`,
# the ion chain does not absorb any phonons, but the ion does become
# excited. We will call this a **carrier** transition.
#
# .. figure:: ../demonstrations/trapped_ions/sidebands.png
# :align: center
# :width: 60%
#
# ..
#
# Effects of the sideband and carrier frequencies on an ion chain
#
# Since the oscillations of the ion chain are quantum states, we may
# wonder whether we can also create superpositions of motional states. For
# both the red and blue sideband frequencies, the Hamiltonian turns out to
# be similar to the one we saw above, but with a different Rabi frequency
# :math:`\tilde{\Omega}`. Following the same prescription as with single
# ions, we can tune the duration and phase of the pulses to form
# superpositions of phonon states. For example, for a blue sideband pulse
# of duration :math:`t=\pi/2\tilde{\Omega}` and phase
# :math:`\varphi=\pi/2`, a system of two ions in both the motional and
# electronic ground state evolves as
#
# .. math:: \left\lvert g\right\rangle \left\lvert g\right\rangle \left\lvert n\right\rangle \rightarrow \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\left(\left\lvert g\right\rangle \left\lvert g\right\rangle \left\lvert n\right\rangle + \left\lvert e\right\rangle \left\lvert g\right\rangle \left\lvert n+1\right\rangle\right)
#
# when the pulse is incident on the first ion. Similarly, other choices of
# duration and phase allow for arbitrary superpositions between phonon
# states. This freedom to act on the motional states gives us the
# necessary tools to implement two-qubit gates. We will see two examples
# and use one of them to build a CNOT gate which, as is well-known, allows
# for universal computations when combined with single-qubit gates.
#
# .. note::
#
# The results above are relatively simple to understand, but they
# are not exact. In particular, to guarantee that the sideband frequencies
# will have the effects we described on the ion chain, the separation between
# ions must be large enough, in a range known as the Lamb-Dicke regime. If we do
# not operate under this condition, stronger interactions will come into
# play, and we will not be able to act on individual ions with the laser
# beams.
#
# Entangling ions with multi-qubit gates
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
#
# .. container:: alert alert-block alert-info
#
# **Maximally entangled states:** When all outcomes have the same
# probability in an entangled state, such as in the two-ion state
#
# .. math::
#
# \left\lvert \psi \right\rangle = \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\left(\left\lvert e \right\rangle \left\lvert g \right\rangle +
# \left\lvert g \right\rangle \left\lvert e \right\rangle\right),
#
# we say that it is **maximally entangled**. To be able to do arbitrary
# computations and for quantum advantage to be possible, we need two-qubit gates
# that, combined with single qubit gates, produce maximally entangled states.
# The CNOT gate is an example of this, and we will learn about others below.
#
#
# The **Cirac-Zoller** gate [#CiracZoller]_ can completely entangle ions. It is also the
# simplest way to illustrate how we can use the states of the harmonic
# oscillator as an aid to create two-qubit gates. For a chain
# with zero motional energy, we saw above that
# applying a blue sideband pulse of duration :math:`t=\pi/2\tilde{\Omega}` and phase
# :math:`\varphi=\pi/2` to the first ion gives us the state
#
# .. math:: \left\lvert \psi \right\rangle = \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\left(\left\lvert g\right\rangle \left\lvert g\right\rangle \left\lvert 0\right\rangle + \left\lvert e\right\rangle \left\lvert g\right\rangle \left\lvert 1\right\rangle\right).
#
# We can then use a similar idea to keep creating superpositions until we
# end up in a maximally entangled state. The steps to implement the
# Cirac-Zoller gate are shown on the diagram:
#
# .. figure:: ../demonstrations/trapped_ions/CZgate.png
# :align: center
# :width: 85%
#
# ..
#
# Implementation of the Cirac-Zoller gate using phonon states
#
# We see that the consecutive application of a blue sideband, a carrier
# frequency, and a red sideband, with different durations, gives us a
# maximally entangled state. It is important to note that, in the last
# step, the part of the superposition that has no chain motion is
# unaffected by the red sideband. This property allows the creation of
# entanglement in electronic states by using the phonon states.
#
# However, the implementation of the Cirac-Zoller gate in real life is
# plagued by problems. First, the ion chain needs to be completely cooled
# down to the ground motional state, which can never be achieved. Second,
# the gate is too slow. Surely, if we use hyperfine qubits, we can take as
# long as we want to implement the gates. The problem comes from the
# harmonic oscillator states. Since ion chains are large and less isolated
# from the environment, phonon states are rather short-lived due to
# decoherence.
#
# For actual applications, we use a more ingenious gate, known as the
# **Mølmer-Sørensen** gate [#Molmer1999]_. It has the advantage that the ions do not
# need to be perfectly cooled to the motional ground state for it to work.
# It relies on simultaneously shining two lasers at different frequencies
# :math:`\omega_{\pm}` on the two target ions, which are slightly detuned
# from the atomic energy gap :math:`\Delta`:
#
# .. math:: \omega_{\pm}=\Delta \pm \delta
#
# The net effect of this interaction with laser light is to excite
# :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle \left\lvert g \right\rangle \left\lvert n \right\rangle \rightarrow \left\lvert e \right\rangle \left\lvert e \right\rangle\left\lvert n \right\rangle`,
# and it can do so through any of the four paths shown below:
#
# .. figure:: ../demonstrations/trapped_ions/molmer_sorensen.png
# :align: center
# :width: 60%
#
# ..
#
# Mølmer-Sørensen gate implemented with two simultaneous laser pulses
#
# Using a quantum mechanical technique known as perturbation theory, we
# can deduce that there is also a Rabi frequency :math:`\Omega_{MS}`
# associated with this evolution. Therefore, adjusting the time and the
# phase of the lasers can lead to a superposition of
# :math:`\left\lvert g \right\rangle \left\lvert g \right\rangle \left\lvert n \right\rangle`
# and
# :math:`\left\lvert e \right\rangle \left\lvert e \right\rangle\left\lvert n \right\rangle`.
# For example, we can obtain the state
# :math:`\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\left(\left\lvert g \right\rangle \left\lvert g \right\rangle\left\lvert n \right\rangle +\left\lvert e \right\rangle \left\lvert e \right\rangle\left\lvert n \right\rangle\right)`
# which, in the two-ion subsystem, corresponds to the maximally entangled state
# :math:`\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\left(\left\lvert g \right\rangle \left\lvert g \right\rangle +\left\lvert e \right\rangle \left\lvert e \right\rangle\right)`.
# Using Schrödinger's equation allows us to derive how the qubits evolve
# when we apply the Mølmer-Sørensen protocol for a time :math:`t`. The
# Hamiltonian is more involved, so we will not do this. We simply state
# the result (for zero phase) and implement it via a Python function
#
# .. math:: U_{MS}(t) =\left( \begin{array}{cccc}
# \cos(\frac{\Omega_{MS}t}{2}) & 0 & 0 & -i\sin(\frac{\Omega_{MS} t}{2})\\
# 0 & \cos(\frac{\Omega_{MS} t}{2}) & -i\sin(\frac{\Omega_{MS} t}{2}) & 0 \\
# 0 & -i\sin(\frac{\Omega_{MS} t}{2}) & \cos(\frac{\Omega_{MS} t}{2}) & 0 \\
# -i\sin(\frac{\Omega_{MS} t}{2}) & 0 & 0 & \cos(\frac{\Omega_{MS} t}{2})
# \end{array}
# \right)
#
Omega = 100
def Molmer_Sorensen(t):
ms = np.array(
[
[np.cos(Omega * t / 2), 0, 0, -1j * np.sin(Omega * t / 2)],
[0, np.cos(Omega * t / 2), -1j * np.sin(Omega * t / 2), 0],
[0, -1j * np.sin(Omega * t / 2), np.cos(Omega * t / 2), 0],
[-1j * np.sin(Omega * t / 2), 0, 0, np.cos(Omega * t / 2)],
]
)
return ms
##############################################################################
# Since the CNOT gate is commonly used in quantum algorithms, let us
# determine how to obtain it from the Mølmer-Sørensen gate.
# It is possible to do so by using a combination of
# single-qubit rotations and the Mølmer-Sørensen gate applied for a period of
# :math:`t=\pi/2\Omega_{MS}`. Explicitly, we do this using the
# following circuit [#Brown2019]_:
#
# .. figure:: ../demonstrations/trapped_ions/CNOTgate.png
# :align: center
# :width: 100%
#
# ..
#
# Circuit for the CNOT gate using rotations and an MS gate
#
# where :math:`RX` and :math:`RY` are the usual rotations around the X and Y
# axes, and :math:`MS(t)` denotes the Mølmer-Sørensen gate applied for a
# time :math:`t/\Omega_{MS}`. Let us verify that this is indeed the case
# by building the circuit in PennyLane:
dev2 = qml.device("default.qubit",wires=2)
@qml.qnode(dev2)
def ion_cnot(basis_state):
#Prepare the two-qubit basis states from the input
qml.templates.BasisStatePreparation(basis_state, wires=range(2))
#Implements the circuit shown above
qml.RY(np.pi/2, wires=0)
qml.QubitUnitary(Molmer_Sorensen(np.pi/2/Omega),wires=[0,1])
qml.RX(-np.pi/2, wires=0)
qml.RX(-np.pi/2, wires=1)
qml.RY(-np.pi/2, wires=0)
return qml.state()
#Compare with built-in CNOT
@qml.qnode(dev2)
def cnot_gate(basis_state):
qml.templates.BasisStatePreparation(basis_state, wires=range(2))
qml.CNOT(wires=[0,1])
return qml.state()
#Check that they are the same up to numerical error and global phase
print(np.isclose(np.exp(-1j*np.pi/4)*ion_cnot([0,0]),cnot_gate([0,0])))
print(np.isclose(np.exp(-1j*np.pi/4)*ion_cnot([0,1]),cnot_gate([0,1])))
print(np.isclose(np.exp(-1j*np.pi/4)*ion_cnot([1,0]),cnot_gate([1,0])))
print(np.isclose(np.exp(-1j*np.pi/4)*ion_cnot([1,1]),cnot_gate([1,1])))
##############################################################################
# This is indeed the CNOT gate, up to a global phase.
# At sufficiently low temperatures, the Rabi frequency :math:`\Omega_{MS}`
# does not depend on the initial harmonic oscillator state, so this method
# can be used reliably even when we fail to cool down the ion chain
# completely. This property also makes this gate more robust to the
# decoherence of the chain.
#
# The problem with too many ions
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
#
# We have learned that the trapped ion paradigm allows us to prepare and
# measure individual qubits, and that we can implement single and
# multi-qubit gates with high accuracy. What's not to like? As in every
# physical realization of quantum computers, trapped ions come with
# advantages and disadvantages. The main problem shared by all physical
# implementations of quantum computers is scalability. The root of the
# problem and the technological challenges involved depend on our
# particular framework.
#
# To understand why scalability is a problem for trapped ions, let us
# consider a long ion chain. As discussed in the previous section, to
# implement multi-qubit gates, we need to lean on the harmonic oscillator
# states of the ion chains. These turn out to be a blessing and a curse
# simultaneously. Quantum computing with trapped ions would not be
# possible without motional states. However, if we put more ions in the
# chain, the values of the frequencies needed to excite it become too
# close together. As a consequence, unless we are extremely careful with
# our laser frequencies, we may end up in the wrong quantum state. We do
# not have infinite precision, so when the number of ions becomes close to
# 100, our current gate technology becomes practically unusable.
#
# Is there a way to make the frequency values more spread out? One way is
# to reduce the Rabi frequency of the Mølmer-Sørensen gate, which we
# control by changing the strength of the laser light. Disappointingly,
# not only does this strategy make it harder to control the ion, but it
# also increases the time needed to apply the Mølmer-Sørensen gate. As
# already mentioned in the previous section, time is of the essence when
# applying multi-qubit gates since the motional states of the chain are
# extremely sensitive to decoherence. We cannot afford to have even slower
# gates.
#
# Which of the DiVincenzo criteria do trapped ions quantum computers still
# fail to meet? Criterion 1 is only met partially: we do have robust
# qubits, but there seems to be a hard technological limit for
# scalability. Criterion 3 also becomes an issue when the ion chain is too
# long since coherence times for motional states become shorter. The
# two-qubit requirement of criterion 4 is related to this decoherence problem since
# multi-qubit gates can take too long to implement accurately in a long
# ion chain. Criterion 2, as already discussed, does not present too much
# of a problem thanks to optical pumping technology. However, problems remain for criterion 5.
# As we already saw, we can use two different
# species of ions to obtain good measurements. But, in general, it is
# challenging to implement consecutive good-quality two-qubit gates
# between different ion species; strategies like the Mølmer-Sørensen
# gate will not work and need modification.
#
# The state of the art
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
#
# Of course, no matter how insurmountable these challenges seem to be,
# physicists will not give up. Many ingenious ways to address these
# technical complications have already been proposed. Not surprisingly, it
# is one of the hottest research topics in quantum computing, and papers
# with newer technologies have probably been published since this tutorial
# was written.
#
# The main issue discussed above is that a long ion chain is noisy and
# makes qubits challenging to manipulate. In 2002, Kielpinski and
# collaborators [#QCCD2002]_ came up with an intelligent solution: if size is a
# problem, let us make the chain shorter! Of course, we would still like
# to be able to manipulate thousands of qubits. To achieve this, we could
# build a segmented trap, also known as a **QCCD** (Quantum Charge-Coupled
# Device) **architecture**. The idea is to make our traps mobile. We could
# move ions from one place to another whenever we need to apply a
# multi-qubit gate and move them far away when we need to manipulate them
# individually. Thus, the chain that we interact with when we need to
# entangle qubits is not long. This method makes the motional states less
# prone to decoherence. The phonon frequencies are also sufficiently
# spread apart so that the gates can be implemented.
#
# .. figure:: ../demonstrations/trapped_ions/qccd.png
# :align: center
# :width: 60%
#
# ..
#
# Example of a proposed QCCD architecture, as in [#Amini2010]_
#
# QCCD architectures sound like a straightforward solution, but seeing as
# we do not have large quantum computers yet, there must be some nuances.
# In practice, moving ions around a trap is not easy at all. The
# containing potential must be changed in a highly accurate manner to
# transport the ions without losing them. Such technology has not been
# perfected yet. While it has been possible to manipulate ions and make
# them interact, the traps we need for a good quantum computer are
# somewhat involved. We want multiple segments in the trap that allow for
# arbitrary ions to be brought together to run quantum algorithms without
# any limitations. In April 2021, Honeywell reported building a
# multi-segment QCCD architecture with six qubits and two interaction
# zones [#Pino2021]_. However, it is unclear how this proposed technology would scale
# to higher orders of magnitude.
#
# Another path towards a solution would be to simply accept the short
# coherence times of the ion chains, and try to make the two-qubit gates
# faster. Such an approach is being followed by the startup IonQ. In
# January 2021, they showed that it is possible to speed up the
# Mølmer-Sørensen gate by one order of magnitude by changing the shape
# of the laser pulse [#Blumel2021]_. Such a speedup might not be enough as the ion chain
# grows. However, a combination of approaches involving QCCDs and
# faster gates may yield the solution to the scalability problem in the
# future.
#
# .. note::
#
# There is another proposed solution to apply two-qubit gates efficiently, which
# involves connecting the ions with photons. Using polarization state
# measurements, we can also entangle electronic states [#Monroe2014]_. This technology
# is still in the early stages of development.
#
# Implementing multi-qubit gates is not the only problem for
# trapped-ion quantum computers. There is still much to do to improve the
# precision of measurements, for example. Most of the photons emitted by
# ions during a measurement are lost, so it would be good to find ways to
# direct more of them to the detector. One can do this using a waveguide architecture inside
# the trap. Similarly, as the number of ions grows, the number of laser
# beams we need does as well [#Niffenegger2020]_. Again, waveguides can also be used to
# direct the photons to target ions. Combined with a better QCCD
# architecture, this optical integration would well-equip us to run
# quantum computing algorithms with trapped ions.
#
# Concluding Remarks
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
#
# Ion trapping is currently one of the most widespread physical implementations
# of quantum computers, both in academia and in industry. Their popularity comes
# as no surprise, since the physical principles that make the paradigm work are
# simple enough, and the necessary technology is already well-developed.
# Granted, there are challenging technical difficulties to scale these quantum
# computers further. However, viable solutions have been proposed, and many
# institutions around the world are working non-stop to make them a reality.
# Moreover, what could be considered simple prototypes of such technologies have
# already proven extremely powerful. The big unknown is whether such devices can scale as much as we
# would like them to. It would be unwise to give up only because the challenge is
# imposing. After all, personal computers were the fruit of hard work and
# inventiveness, and very few people were able to predict that they would scale
# as much as they have. Now you possess a high-level knowledge of how trapped
# ion computers work! Make sure to read any new papers that come out
# to keep updated on new developments. Will the trapped ion framework
# emerge victorious in this race to obtain a useful quantum computer? Only time will tell!
#
# References
# ~~~~~~~~~~
#
# .. [#DiVincenzo2000]
#
# D. DiVincenzo. (2000) "The Physical Implementation of Quantum Computation",
# `Fortschritte der Physik 48 (9–11): 771–783
# `__.
# (`arXiv `__)
#
# .. [#Paul1953]
#
# W. Paul, H. Steinwedel. (1953) "Ein neues Massenspektrometer ohne Magnetfeld",
# RZeitschrift für Naturforschung A 8 (7): 448-450.
#
# .. [#CiracZoller]
#
# J. Cirac, P. Zoller. (1995) "Quantum Computations with Cold Trapped Ions".
# Physical Review Letters 74 (20): 4091–4094.
#
# .. [#Malinowski]
#
# M. Malinowski. (2021) "Unitary and Dissipative Trapped-Ion Entanglement Using
# Integrated Optics". PhD Thesis retrieved from `ETH thesis repository
# `__.
#
# .. [#NandC2000]
#
# M. A. Nielsen, and I. L. Chuang (2000) "Quantum Computation and Quantum Information",
# Cambridge University Press.
#
# .. [#Hughes2020]
#
# A. Hughes, V. Schafer, K. Thirumalai, et al. (2020)
# "Benchmarking a High-Fidelity Mixed-Species Entangling Gate"
# `Phys. Rev. Lett. 125, 080504
# `__.
# (`arXiv `__)
#
# .. [#Bergou2021]
#
# J. Bergou, M. Hillery, and M. Saffman. (2021) "Quantum Information Processing",
# Springer.
#
# .. [#Molmer1999]
#
# A. Sørensen, K. Mølmer. (1999) "Multi-particle entanglement of hot trapped ions",
# `Physical Review Letters. 82 (9): 1835–1838
# `__.
# (`arXiv `__)
#
# .. [#Brown2019]
#
# M. Brown, M. Newman, and K. Brown. (2019)
# "Handling leakage with subsystem codes",
# `New J. Phys. 21 073055
# `__.
# (`arXiv `__)
#
# .. [#Monroe2014]
#
# C. Monroe, R. Ruassendorf, A Ruthven, et al. (2019)
# "Large scale modular quantum computer architecture with atomic memory and photonic interconnects",
# `Phys. Rev. A 89 022317
# `__.
# (`arXiv `__)
#
# .. [#QCCD2002]
#
# D. Kielpinski, C. Monroe, and D. Wineland. (2002)
# "Architecture for a large-scale ion-trap quantum computer",
# `Nature 417, 709–711 (2002).
# `__.
#
# .. [#Amini2010]
#
# J. Amini, H. Uys, J. Wesenberg, et al. (2010)
# "Toward scalable ion traps for quantum information processing",
# `New J. Phys 12 033031
# `__.
# (`arXiv `__)
#
#
# .. [#Pino2021]
#
# J. Pino, J. Dreiling, J, C, Figgatt, et al. (2021)
# "Demonstration of the trapped-ion quantum CCD computer architecture".
# `Nature 592, 209–213
# `__.
# (`arXiv `__)
#
# .. [#Blumel2021]
#
# R. Blumel, N. Grzesiak, N. Nguyen, et al. (2021)
# "Efficient Stabilized Two-Qubit Gates on a Trapped-Ion Quantum Computer"
# `Phys. Rev. Lett. 126, 220503
# `__.
# (`arXiv `__)
#
# .. [#Niffenegger2020]
#
# R. Niffenegger, J. Stuart, C.Sorace-Agaskar, et al. (2020)
# "Integrated multi-wavelength control of an ion qubit"
# `Nature volume 586, pages538–542
# `__.
# (`arXiv `__)
#
# About the author
# ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
# .. include:: ../_static/authors/alvaro_ballon.txt