Control in Quantum Coherent Systems

November 22, 2013
Start Time: 2:30-4:00pm
Hosted by: Keren Bergman
Speaker: Dr. Michael J. Biercuk , Director, Quantum Control Laboratory, University of Sydney


Tremendous research activity worldwide has focused on attempting to harness the exotic properties of quantum physics for new applications in metrology, computation, and communications - a push to develop engineered quantum systems. Underlying any such capability is the need to exert control over a chosen quantum system in order to coax it into performing useful tasks. Unfortunately the rules of quantum mechanics - including fundamental proscriptions against performing "standard" measurement feedback or duplicating information - make control engineering in the quantum domain a challenging task.

In this talk we introduce the promise of engineered quantum technologies and describe the challenge of control engineering in these systems. We motivate and introduce one framework that is proving useful in real experimental quantum systems: Open-loop control. Through a presentation of a series of experiments using trapped atomic ions as a model quantum system, we describe the utility of open loop control in providing error-robustness, and introduce the formalism of noise filtering through control in order to suppress the intrinsic loss of quantum coherence that has proven so difficult in the laboratory. We present these experimental results as a supporting examples of the Quantum Firmware framework, through which we envision a set of error-suppressing and robust-control techniques implemented at the physical level of quantum coherent hardware, abstracted away from the user of any quantum technology. Applications discussed include quantum computing, quantum simulation, and quantum-enhanced metrology.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Michael J. Biercuk is an experimental physicist and engineer working to develop a new generation of quantum technologies with the potential to transform everything from computers to medical imaging. Michael runs the Quantum Control Laboratory in the ARC Centre for Engineered Quantum Systems at the University of Sydney, which performs experiments using trapped ions in order to study and exploit the strangest effects in quantum physics. Research results have been profiled in popular media outlets including The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian, and many others. Michael's specific interests include robust control in quantum systems, quantum computation, quantum simulation, and precision metrology.

Michael earned his undergraduate degree in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania, and his Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Harvard University. He has worked in and out of academic research, including service as a scientific consultant to DARPA, specializing in quantum information science and next-generation microprocessor architectures. Following his time in DC, Michael returned to the laboratory, working in the Ion Storage Group at NIST Boulder before moving to Sydney.

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