20 June 2012

Anders S. Sørensen receives ERC grant for research into open quantum systems

Professor of theoretical quantum physics, Anders Søndberg Sørensen has been awarded nearly 11 million kroner from the European Research Council, ERC for research into gaining control over so-called ‘noise effects’ in atomic quantum systems. The research should lead to realising communication with quantum computers.

Anders S. Sørensen

Anders S. Sørensen

 Anders Sørensen researches in quantum information and his research project called ‘Quantum Interfaces and Open Systems’ involves turning a big problem in the research of quantum systems into an advantage. The problem is that for everything dealing with quantum information there is a major hurdle, the atoms ‘talk’ with their surroundings.

From problem to advantage

“The most important component in quantum communication over large distances is to create an entangled state between two atomic systems. On the one hand, it is a problem that such atomic systems are communicating with their environment and are affected by light, sound waves, vibrations, temperature and electric and magnetic fields, which generate ‘noise’. On the other hand, it is also necessary that the systems be in contact with their surroundings so that we can create the entanglement. We will therefore try to work out solutions for how we can harness and control this link to the surroundings so that a major problem becomes an advantage,” explains Anders Sørensen.

In order to build a quantum computer with an atomic or solid state system, you would normally like it to be completely isolated from its surroundings – as if it were sealed in a container where nothing can get in. But in practice there will always be small ‘holes’ in the container nonetheless and noise can get in. Anders Sørensen explains that they will work both to reduce the ‘holes’, but will also deliberately make a ‘hole in the container’ with the atomic system and use the external noise to manipulate the system or allow interaction between the systems and the environment.

Noise used constructively

“It could be, for example, that it vibrates, but then we will try to get it to vibrate in the right way. The vibrations and the ‘noise’ from the environment is there no matter what, but can we use it constructively instead? This is what we will try to do,” he explains.

The ERC fund supports young talented researchers and with the award of nearly 11 million kroner Anders Sørensen will now be able to establish his own research group and hire four researchers – two as PhD students and two in postdoc positions.