Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Diving into the Nobel Prizes

In this week's podcast, I took a look at the work of Serge Haroche and David Wineland, this year's winners of the Physics Nobel Prize. They won for their groundbreaking work into quantum optics, the study of the interaction of light and matter at the smallest scales. Moreover, together their research let scientists play with the confounding world of quantum mechanics at a level once thought impossible.

In January, a few months before he won the most prestigious award in science, Wineland sat down with people at the Institute for Quantum Computing to talk a little more in depth about his research into ion traps, quantum weirdness and what you can do with it all.

I mentioned in the podcast that Wineland's main focus is developing more precise atomic clocks. Other than just keeping time, these clocks form the basis of how the Global Positioning System works.

Much of his research relies on the ion traps he developed. But how exactly do they work? Here, Wineland describes how he and his team use an electric field to create these traps.

These atomic traps are versatile because the atomic time keepers in atomic clocks and the quantum "qubits" which form the basis of a quantum computer, both need to be completely isolated from the environment.

The whole series of nine videos can be found here, plus a lecture he delivered as part of their "Quantum Frontiers Distinguished Lecture" series.

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