Engineering a Quantum Many-body Hamiltonian with Trapped Ions
Lee, Aaron Christopher
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While fault-tolerant quantum computation might still be years away, analog quantum simulators offer a way to leverage current quantum technologies to study classically intractable quantum systems. Cutting edge quantum simulators such as those utilizing ultracold atoms are beginning to study physics which surpass what is classically tractable. As the system sizes of these quantum simulators increase, there are also concurrent gains in the complexity and types of Hamiltonians which can be simulated. In this work, I describe advances toward the realization of an adaptable, tunable quantum simulator capable of surpassing classical computation. We simulate long-ranged Ising and XY spin models which can have global arbitrary transverse and longitudinal fields in addition to individual transverse fields using a linear chain of up to 24 Yb+ 171 ions confined in a linear rf Paul trap. Each qubit is encoded in the ground state hyperfine levels of an ion. Spin-spin interactions are engineered by the application of spin-dependent forces from laser fields, coupling spin to motion. Each spin can be read independently using state-dependent fluorescence. The results here add yet more tools to an ever growing quantum simulation toolbox. One of many challenges has been the coherent manipulation of individual qubits. By using a surprisingly large fourth-order Stark shifts in a clock-state qubit, we demonstrate an ability to individually manipulate spins and apply independent Hamiltonian terms, greatly increasing the range of quantum simulations which can be implemented. As quantum systems grow beyond the capability of classical numerics, a constant question is how to verify a quantum simulation. Here, I present measurements which may provide useful metrics for large system sizes and demonstrate them in a system of up to 24 ions during a classically intractable simulation. The observed values are consistent with extremely large entangled states, as much as ~95% of the system entangled. Finally, we use many of these techniques in order to generate a spin Hamiltonian which fails to thermalize during experimental time scales due to a meta-stable state which is often called prethermal. The observed prethermal state is a new form of prethermalization which arises due to long-range interactions and open boundary conditions, even in the thermodynamic limit. This prethermalization is observed in a system of up to 22 spins. We expect that system sizes can be extended up to 30 spins with only minor upgrades to the current apparatus. These results emphasize that as the technology improves, the techniques and tools developed here can potentially be used to perform simulations which will surpass the capability of even the most sophisticated classical techniques, enabling the study of a whole new regime of quantum many-body physics.