Precise control over quantum systems can enable the realization of fascinating applications such as powerful computers, secure communication devices, and simulators that can elucidate the physics of complex condensed matter systems. However, the fragility of quantum effects makes it very difficult to harness the power of quantum mechanics. In this thesis, we present novel systems and tools for gaining fundamental insights into the complex quantum world and for bringing practical applications of quantum mechanics closer to reality.
We first optimize and show equivalence between a wide range of techniques for storage of photons in atomic ensembles. We describe experiments demonstrating the potential of our optimization algorithms for quantum communication and computation applications. Next, we combine the technique of photon storage with strong atom-atom interactions to propose a robust protocol for implementing the two-qubit photonic phase gate, which is an important ingredient in many quantum computation and communication tasks.
In contrast to photon storage, many quantum computation and simulation applications require individual addressing of closely-spaced atoms, ions, quantum dots, or solid state defects. To meet this requirement, we propose a method for coherent optical far-field manipulation of quantum systems with a resolution that is not limited by the wavelength of radiation.
While alkali atoms are currently the system of choice for photon storage and many other applications, we develop new methods for quantum information processing and quantum simulation with ultracold alkaline-earth atoms in optical lattices. We show how multiple qubits can be encoded in individual alkaline-earth atoms and harnessed for quantum computing and precision measurements applications. We also demonstrate that alkaline-earth atoms can be used to simulate highly symmetric systems exhibiting spin-orbital interactions and capable of providing valuable insights into strongly correlated physics of transition metal oxides, heavy fermion materials, and spin liquid phases.
While ultracold atoms typically exhibit only short-range interactions, numerous exotic phenomena and practical applications require long-range interactions, which can be achieved with ultracold polar molecules. We demonstrate the possibility to engineer a repulsive interaction between polar molecules, which allows for the suppression of inelastic collisions, efficient evaporative cooling, and the creation of novel phases of polar molecules.