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Ion trap in a chip

Gold chip: first place in British science photography contest

Diana Prado Lopes Aude Craik/University of Oxford Gold chip: first place in British science photography contestDiana Prado Lopes Aude Craik/University of Oxford

Brazilian physicist Diana Prado Lopes Aude Craik, 28, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in quantum physics at the University of Oxford in England, has won first place in the Eureka category (images that reflect new discoveries), as well as the top prize in a science photography contest sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), a British agency that funds research in the fields of engineering and physical science.  With a photo of a gold microchip used to trap ions in quantum computing experiments, designed by herself and a colleague at the university, Craik outperformed more than 200 contestants.  The winning image showcases the chip’s golden filaments, connected to electrodes that transmit electrical fields in order to trap individual ions about 100 microns above the surface of the device.  “Individual atomic ions can be trapped when electric potential is applied to the chip’s gold electrodes.  These ions are used as quantum bits – or qubits, for short –, the units that store and process information in a quantum computer,” said Craik, after being announced the winner of the contest.  “Two states of energy of a trapped ion serve as [positions] 0 and 1 of a qubit.  Electrodes built into the microchip transmit microwave radiation to the ions, making it possible to manipulate the stored quantum information by stimulating the transition between energy states 0 and 1.”  The device was produced by photolithography, a technique used in making integrated circuits.  Having been awarded the top prize, Craik won £ 500 (R$2,537.00) in photographic materials.