Physics & Astronomy Colloquium

October 21, 2019 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm
301 VAN

Professor Mark Saffman; Department of Physics & Astronomy; University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Neutral Atom Quantum Computing - Climbing Mount Entanglement"


Quantum computing is a few decades old and is currently an area where there is great excitement, and rapid developments. One of the daunting challenges in developing a practical quantum computer is the need for a very large number of qubits. Neutral atoms are one of the most promising approaches for meeting this challenge.

I will describe the current state of play and the optical and atomic physics underlying neutral atom qubits and computation. In the near term hybrid approaches that combine quantum and classical processing have the potential for demonstrating useful quantum speedups. I will give an example of such an approach, and its application to dark matter searches. Fully scalable quantum computation will require error correction, which brings with it additional experimental requirements. I will end with an outlook for achieving large scale entanglement, and quantum computation, with atoms.


Mark Saffman is an experimental physicist working in the areas of atomic physics, quantum and nonlinear optics, and quantum information processing. He has made significant contributions to the physics of optical solitons, pattern formation, sources of entangled light, and quantum computing. His current research effort is devoted to the development of neutral atom based quantum computing devices. His research team was the first to demonstrate a quantum CNOT gate between two trapped neutral atoms, and the deterministic entanglement of a pair of neutral atoms. This was done using dipole mediated interactions between highly excited Rydberg atoms. He is currently developing scalable neutral atom platforms using arrays of trapped atoms.

He is a Professor of Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Chief Scientist for Quantum Information at ColdQuanta, Inc. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America and has been recognized with the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and a University of Wisconsin Vilas Associate Award. He also serves as an Associate Editor for Physical Review A.