2013

S Ulm, J Rossnagel, G Jacob, C Degunther, ST Dawkins, UG Poschinger, R Nigmatullin, A Retzker, MB Plenio, F Schmidt-Kaler, and K Singer. 8/7/2013. “Observation of the Kibble-Zurek scaling law for defect formation in ion crystals.” Nature Communications, 4. Publisher's Version Abstract
Traversal of a symmetry-breaking phase transition at finite rates can lead to causally separated regions with incompatible symmetries and the formation of defects at their boundaries, which has a crucial role in quantum and statistical mechanics, cosmology and condensed matter physics. This mechanism is conjectured to follow universal scaling laws prescribed by the Kibble–Zurek mechanism. Here we determine the scaling law for defect formation in a crystal of 16 laser-cooled trapped ions, which are conducive to the precise control of structural phases and the detection of defects. The experiment reveals an exponential scaling of defect formation γβ, where γ is the rate of traversal of the critical point and β=2.68±0.06. This supports the prediction of β=8/3≈2.67 for finite inhomogeneous systems. Our result demonstrates that the scaling laws also apply in the mesoscopic regime and emphasizes the potential for further tests of non-equilibrium thermodynamics with ion crystals.
D Shwa, RD Cohen, A Retzker, and N Katz. 8/7/2013. “Heralded generation of Bell states using atomic ensembles.” Physical Review a, 88, 6. Publisher's Version Abstract
Traversal of a symmetry-breaking phase transition at finite rates can lead to causally separated regions with incompatible symmetries and the formation of defects at their boundaries, which has a crucial role in quantum and statistical mechanics, cosmology and condensed matter physics. This mechanism is conjectured to follow universal scaling laws prescribed by the Kibble–Zurek mechanism. Here we determine the scaling law for defect formation in a crystal of 16 laser-cooled trapped ions, which are conducive to the precise control of structural phases and the detection of defects. The experiment reveals an exponential scaling of defect formation γβ, where γ is the rate of traversal of the critical point and β=2.68±0.06. This supports the prediction of β=8/3≈2.67 for finite inhomogeneous systems. Our result demonstrates that the scaling laws also apply in the mesoscopic regime and emphasizes the potential for further tests of non-equilibrium thermodynamics with ion crystals.
K Pyka, J Keller, HL Partner, R Nigmatullin, T Burgermeister, DM Meier, K Kuhlmann, A Retzker, MB Plenio, WH Zurek, A del Campo, and TE Mehlstaubler. 8/7/2013. “Topological defect formation and spontaneous symmetry breaking in ion Coulomb crystals.” Nature Communications, 4. Publisher's Version Abstract
Symmetry breaking phase transitions play an important role in nature. When a system traverses such a transition at a finite rate, its causally disconnected regions choose the new broken symmetry state independently. Where such local choices are incompatible, topological defects can form. The Kibble–Zurek mechanism predicts the defect densities to follow a power law that scales with the rate of the transition. Owing to its ubiquitous nature, this theory finds application in a wide field of systems ranging from cosmology to condensed matter. Here we present the successful creation of defects in ion Coulomb crystals by a controlled quench of the confining potential, and observe an enhanced power law scaling in accordance with numerical simulations and recent predictions. This simple system with well-defined critical exponents opens up ways to investigate the physics of non-equilibrium dynamics from the classical to the quantum regime.
P London, J Scheuer, JM Cai, I Schwarz, A Retzker, MB Plenio, M Katagiri, T Teraji, S Koizumi, J Isoya, R Fischer, LP McGuinness, B Naydenov, and F Jelezko. 8/5/2013. “Detecting and Polarizing Nuclear Spins with Double Resonance on a Single Electron Spin.” Physical Review Letters, 111, 6. Publisher's Version Abstract
We report the detection and polarization of nuclear spins in diamond at room temperature by using a single nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center. We use Hartmann-Hahn double resonance to coherently enhance the signal from a single nuclear spin while decoupling from the noisy spin bath, which otherwise limits the detection sensitivity. As a proof of principle, we (i) observe coherent oscillations between the NV center and a weakly coupled nuclear spin and (ii) demonstrate nuclear-bath cooling, which prolongs the coherence time of the NV sensor by more than a factor of 5. Our results provide a route to nanometer scale magnetic resonance imaging and novel quantum information processing protocols.
MB Plenio and A Retzker. 11/4/2013. “Ion Traps as a testbed of classical and quantum statistical mechanics.” Annalen Der Physik, 525, 10-11, Pp. A159-A162. Publisher's Version Abstract
The development of statistical mechanics over the last century represents a major advance in the Natural Sciences. It is capable of describing a wide range of phenomena including the properties of phase transitions by reducing the complexity of quantum-many-body systems to simple general principles rooted in statistical methods that hold true in macroscopic systems. These principles apply to a broad range of physical theories, encompassing phenomena that are for example governed by classical, relativistic or quantum physics. While many of these predictions have been confirmed experimentally, the exploration, under highly controlled conditions, of the statistical mechanics of mesoscopic systems and the theoretical prediction of their behavior does still represent a challenge for both theory and experiment. A new avenue towards the controlled exploration of the classical and quantum statistical mechanics of mesoscopic systems has opened up in recent years thanks to the remarkable achievements in ion trap physics, which is pursued mainly for the realization of quantum information processing and precision metrology, in controlling and manipulating ion crystals.
HL Partner, R Nigmatullin, T Burgermeister, K Pyka, J Keller, A Retzker, MB Plenio, and TE Mehlstaubler. 10/16/2013. “Dynamics of topological defects in ion Coulomb crystals.” New Journal of Physics, 15. Publisher's Version Abstract
We study experimentally and theoretically the properties of structural defects (kink solitons) in two-dimensional ion Coulomb crystals. We show how different types of kink solitons with different physical properties can be realized, and transformed from one type into another by varying the aspect ratio of the trap confinement. Further, we discuss how impurities in ion Coulomb crystals, such as mass defects, can modify the dynamics of kink creation and their stability. For both pure and impure crystals, the experimentally observed kink dynamics are analysed in detail and explained theoretically by numerical simulations and calculations of the Peierls–Nabarro potential. Finally, we demonstrate that static electric fields provide a handle to vary the influence of mass defects on kinks in a controlled way and allow for deterministic manipulation and creation of kinks.
JM Cai, F Jelezko, MB Plenio, and A Retzker. 1/11/2013. “Diamond-based single-molecule magnetic resonance spectroscopy.” New Journal of Physics, 15. Publisher's Version Abstract
The detection of a nuclear spin in an individual molecule represents a key challenge in physics and biology whose solution has been pursued for many years. The small magnetic moment of a single nucleus and the unavoidable environmental noise present the key obstacles for its realization. In this paper, we demonstrate theoretically that a single nitrogen-vacancy center in diamond can be used to construct a nano-scale single-molecule spectrometer that is capable of detecting the position and spin state of a single nucleus and can determine the distance and alignment of a nuclear or electron spin pair. The proposed device would find applications in single-molecule spectroscopy in chemistry and biology, for example in determining the protein structure or in monitoring macromolecular motions, and can thus provide a tool to help unravel the microscopic mechanisms underlying bio-molecular function.
JM Cai, A Retzker, F Jelezko, and MB Plenio. 1/20/2013. “A large-scale quantum simulator on a diamond surface at room temperature.” Nature Physics, 9, 3, Pp. 168-173. Publisher's Version Abstract
Strongly correlated quantum many-body systems may exhibit exotic phases, such as spin liquids and supersolids. Although their numerical simulation becomes intractable for as few as 50 particles, quantum simulators offer a route to overcome this computational barrier. However, proposed realizations either require stringent conditions such as low temperature/ultra-high vacuum, or are extremely hard to scale. Here, we propose a new solid-state architecture for a scalable quantum simulator that consists of strongly interacting nuclear spins attached to the diamond surface. Initialization, control and read-out of this quantum simulator can be accomplished with nitrogen-vacancy centers implanted in diamond. The system can be engineered to simulate a wide variety of strongly correlated spin models. Owing to the superior coherence time of nuclear spins and nitrogen-vacancy centers in diamond, our proposal offers new opportunities towards large-scale quantum simulation at ambient conditions of temperature and pressure.
A Albrecht, A Retzker, F Jelezko, and MB Plenio. 8/6/2013. “Coupling of nitrogen vacancy centres in nanodiamonds by means of phonons.” New Journal of Physics, 15. Publisher's Version Abstract
Realizing controlled quantum dynamics via the magnetic interactions between colour centres in diamond remains a challenge despite recent demonstrations for nanometre separated pairs. Here we propose to use the intrinsic acoustical phonons in diamond as a data bus for accomplishing this task. We show that for nanodiamonds the electron–phonon coupling can take significant values that together with mode frequencies in the THz range can serve as a resource for conditional gate operations. Based on these results, we analyse how to use this phonon-induced interaction for constructing quantum gates among the electron-spin triplet ground states, introducing the phonon dependence via Raman transitions. Combined with decoupling pulses this offers the possibility for creating entangled states within nanodiamonds on the scale of several tens of nanometres, a promising prerequisite for quantum sensing applications.
N Aharon, M Drewsen, and A Retzker. 12/6/2013. “General Scheme for the Construction of a Protected Qubit Subspace.” Physical Review Letters, 111, 23. Publisher's Version Abstract
We present a new robust decoupling scheme suitable for levels with either half-integer or integer angular momentum states. Through continuous dynamical decoupling techniques, we create a protected qubit subspace, utilizing a multistate qubit construction. Remarkably, the multistate system can also be composed of multiple substates within a single level. Our scheme can be realized with state-of-the-art experimental setups and thus has immediate applications for quantum information science. While the scheme is general and relevant for a multitude of solid-state and atomic systems, we analyze its performance for the case composed of trapped ions. Explicitly, we show how single qubit gates and an ensemble coupling to a cavity mode can be implemented efficiently. The scheme predicts a coherence time of ∼1  s, as compared to typically a few milliseconds for the bare states.