Degree Name

BS in Physics


Physics Department


Katharina Gillen


Quantum computing may still be decades away from realization but the pieces necessary for the construction of the first quantum chip are beginning to come together. One piece still eluding researchers is the ability to address individual atoms within a scalable quantum chip structure. The resolution to this issue may be found in any one of several promising implementations, including the use of neutral atoms trapped in 2D optical lattices. One method of constructing such lattices, which has been shown to be computationally viable, employs the diffraction pattern just behind a circular aperture. Laser wavelength stability plays a crucial role in this approach, which entails constructing a 2D optical lattice with an array of pinholes, populating the lattice with atoms collected by a magneto optical trap (MOT), and manipulating the atoms trapped within the lattice structure for quantum computations. Experimental work was done toward achieving the laser wavelength stability required for these tasks. First, we investigated inadequate temperature control of the laser diodes and a thermal mass issue attributed to the laser mounts was resolved. We proceeded to analyze the electronics of the laser locking feedback system, which were failing to hold the lasers steady at a desired wavelength. Several noise sources contributing to signal instability were identified and eliminated, but drifting of the error signal was persistent. A subsequent fix was then made to the locking electronics and sufficient laser wavelength stability was demonstrated when atoms were trapped for the first time in the Cal Poly MOT on September 2, 2011.