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Quantum Information Science

Quantum-enhanced metrology with trapped ions for fundamental physics

Developing and using single-ion clocks for investigating the time variation of fundamental constants and for searching for low-mass dark matter
Sketch of a setup for a Heisenberg-limited measurement between a lattice clock and an ion clock.

The objective of this work is to realize precision measurements with trapped, laser-cooled ions that address a set of questions of major interest in high energy physics. We are using techniques from quantum metrology developed by the Ion Storage Group of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and applying them to cutting-edge precision measurements. We are addressing three main questions: 1) Are the fundamental constants of nature truly constant, or do they vary in time or space? 2) What is the nature of dark matter—can it be described as an ultra-light particle coupling weakly to normal matter? 3) Can quantum-enhanced metrology with trapped atoms solve cutting-edge metrological problems—under what conditions is this approach the best solution?

In related work, we are developing in parallel an extreme-scale computational capability to make predictions for the distribution of low-mass dark matter by harnessing the power of next-generation exascale computers, such as Aurora, which will be arriving at Argonne in 2021.