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A surprising similarity between ultracold gases of "Rydberg atoms" and wireless telecommunications networks has been spotted by mathematicians and physicists at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Using algorithms designed to boost the performance of certain wireless networks, Jaron Sanders and colleagues have gained insights into why these atoms sometimes form crystalline structures. As the algorithms can also be used to control such structures, ensembles of Rydberg atoms could therefore be created in specific quantum states and used in quantum-information applications. The technique could even one day be used to create quantum-logic gates using Rydberg atoms.

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