Atomic quantum memory makes the grade

An atomic memory (glowing green), made at the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw, can be used to store quantum information in telecomunication purposes. From left to right: Michał Dąbrowski, Radek Chrapkiewicz and Wojciech Wasilewski.Physicists at the University of Warsaw claim to have developed a fully functioning atomic memory that is simple to make and with numerous applications.

The main element of the memory device is a glass chamber that is 2.5 centimetres in diameter and 10 centimetres long.  It has rubidium coated sides that are filled with one of the noble gases.

The scientists said when the tube is gently heated, rubidium pairs fill the inside and when quantum information is stored, photons from a laser beam imprint quantum states on the rubidium atoms that can then be retrieved using another laser pulse.

The researchers use a camera capable of detecting individual photons and with speeds tens of times higher than the fastest cameras.

The memory states only last from a few microseconds up to 10s of microseconds and this is useful in telecommunications which can transmit quantum signals to the next relay station.

The physicists have patents pending on some of their research efforts.