The ability to store and retrieve a so-called qubit state in an atomic quantum memory node could help bring "quantum repeaters," devices that let quantum information transmit long distances by optical fiber.

In the lab, researchers excite (at 200 Hz) a cloud of rubidium atoms stored in a magneto-optical trap cooled to temperatures near absolute zero, a process that generates a single photon about once every 5 sec. Because the photon is in resonance with the atoms from which it was created, it carries specific quantum information about the excitation state of the atoms.

The liberated photon next travels along a 100-m-long optical fiber to a second cloud of trapped rubidium atoms. An intense laser beam controls the velocity of the photon until it is inside the second cloud, at which time the beam is switched off. The photon halts inside the dense ensemble of atoms where it sits for about 10 sec. The control beam is then switched on and the photon escapes the atomic cloud. Researchers verify the quantum information encoded on the exiting photon matches that which was carried into the second cloud.

Success of the experiments depends on careful control of potentially interfering magnetic fields. Stray magnetic fields are a problem because they can make atoms spin out of phase and lose their information. The team hopes to eventually add additional nodes to the rudimentary quantum network and encode useful information into photons.

Most recently the team demonstrated entanglement between two atomic qubits separated by a distance of 5.5 m. Such entanglements could find use in quantum cryptography, say researchers, though practical applications remain a long way off. Funding for the research comes from NASA, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program, National Science Foundation, Research Corp., Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and Cullen-Peck Chair.

Copper key to tinier, more-efficient RF circuits

A copper-metallization process that integrates passive devices (IPD) from Stats ChipPAC Ltd., Singapore, boosts performance of RF wireless systems and shrinks them down. Passive-integration technology targets GSM/DCS and CDMA cellular phones, Wireless LAN 802.11 a/b/g, and WiMax systems, primarily in RF-power amplifiers and front-end modules.

IPDs made with conventional ceramic technology tend to be relatively thick and bulky. But passive devices that are integrated and fabricated at the silicon-wafer level are significantly smaller and thinner than their ceramic counterparts. The approach also shrinks matching circuitry and filters.

The process deposits 8 m or more of copper on a silicon wafer. This cuts losses in the RF-signal transmission path, which lowers power consumption and boosts reception. A library of standard IPD elements and custom designs are available. The metallization technology is also integral to the company's Chip Scale Module Package (CSMP) architecture. CSMP integrates mixed IC technologies and passive devices such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, filters, baluns, and interconnects, directly onto a silicon substrate.

High-voltage LED driver IC

HV9911 LED driver ICs from Supertex Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., give good current accuracy and a wide input voltage range (9 to 250 Vdc). They are designed specifically for dc/dc applications such as RGB backlighting, automotive lighting, and battery-powered LED lamps.

The closed-loop, switched-mode LED driver ICs include an internal transconductance operational amplifier for tighter line and load regulation of LED current and good transient response to PWM dimming. The ICs can be synchronized to prevent subharmonic oscillations in applications with multiple LED drivers. The IC operates in fixed frequency or fixed off-time modes for use in converter topologies such as boost, fly-back, and buck.

The HV9911 also has slope compensation for wider operating ranges in fixed-frequency mode, and an internal regulator for use in low and high-voltage applications. The HV9911 comes in a 16-lead SOIC package (HV9911NG-G) and complies with Green and RoHS regulations.

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Stats ChipPAC Ltd., www.statschippac.com
Supertex Inc.,
www.supertex.com