Complex Applications with Simple Atoms
Department of Physics, Williams College
Improvements in control over the quantum states of physical systems during recent decades have given rise to a wealth of applications. Atomic clocks have long served as the heart of the Global Positioning System. More recently, atomic systems have been used to make superb sensors of electromagnetic fields, accelerations, and rotations. Coherent control of the quantum states of individual atoms has also brought us to the brink of solving problems which are intractable on ordinary, classical computers, and enabled precision measurements which probe our understanding of physics with of heretofore unheard of sensitivity. In this colloquium I will give a broad introduction to the application of atomic systems to timekeeping, precision sensing, and quantum information processing. I will also discuss two experiments with trapped atomic ions underway at Williams: quantum simulation of nanoscale heat transport using the vibrational modes of trapped atomic ions, and precision measurements of isotope shifts which may offer insight into new physics beyond the Standard Model.