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Summary form only given.To model the decoherence in ion traps resulting from laser intensity and phase fluctuations, we assume that the stochastic processes involved are white noise processes, which enables us to give a simple master equation description of this source of decoherence. We discuss the effects those fluctuations have on gate operations in ion-trap quantum computation and briefly address possible detection and error correction mechanisms. The master equation is then averaged over the noise and is sufficient to describe the results of experiments that probe the oscillations in the electronic populations as energy is exchanged between the internal and electronic motion. We get solutions for the probability of the ion to be in the ground state for both intensity and phase fluctuations. Our results predict that the decoherence rate resulting from intensity fluctuations will depend on the vibrational quantum number in different ways depending on which vibrational excitation sideband is used. So the dependence of the decoherence rate for the second red sideband depends quadratically on the vibrational energy state |n> the ion is prepared in, whereas for the first sideband, this effect is linear in n. Due to this result, the second red (or any higher-order) sideband is a better choice for testing the dependence of decoherence on the excitation in the vibrational state experimentally than just the first-order sideband. Because those fluctuations in the exciting laser pulse are not the only source of decoherence, we briefly discuss fluctuations in the trap potential itself. These fluctuations lead to a wobbling trap center point, and we discuss the effects due to them.
Date of Conference: 8-8 May 1998