For quantum information science to have a pervasive impact across wide-ranging disciplines in the near future, quantum systems will need to function in non-ideal conditions outside the research laboratory. Such systems would find immediate use in the scientific and business worlds, and the U.S. Department of Defense is likewise interested in small-scale quantum devices that may be deployed in space or other hostile environments. To that end, an exploratory grant funded by Jon Dilger and Steve Howell at NSWC Crane ($60,000) has allowed Prof. Phil Richerme and postdoc Jiafeng Cui to study the sensitivity of ion trap quantum information systems to low-dose sources of radiation. For the small-scale doses used in this study, we found no quantifiable degradation of ion trap performance in the presence of radiation, when measuring qubit lifetimes or gate coherence times. The Richerme Lab's current work with the DoD, funded through the National Security Innovation Network ($500,000) and in collaboration with Vice Provost for Research Jeff Zaleski and Prof. Mehmet Dalkilic, seeks to repeat these studies with high-dose radiation sources, which can be found at several dedicated large-scale radiation test facilities throughout the country. To perform our tests at these facilities, we are constructing a portable ion trap apparatus that can be transported and assembled quickly. We expect that our prototype will guide future quantum system design requirements for radiation shielding and determine the need for new quantum information protocols that can combat observed radiation effects.
This project is part of the IU National Security Academic Accelerator program, which is described in this press release.