Researchers at the Center for Quantum Nanoscience (QNS) within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) achieved a major breakthrough in shielding the quantum properties of single atoms on a surface. The scientists used the magnetism of single atoms, known as spin, as a basic building block for quantum information processing. The researchers could show that by packing two atoms closely together they could protect their fragile quantum properties much better than for just one atom.
The spin is a fundamental quantum mechanical object and governs magnetic properties of materials. In a classical picture, the spin often can be considered like the needle of a compass. The north or south poles of the needle, for example, can represent spin up or down. However, according to the laws of quantum mechanics, the spin can also point in both directions at the same time. This superposition state is very fragile since the interaction of the spin with the local environment causes dephasing of the superposition. Understanding the dephasing mechanism and enhancing the quantumcoherenceare one of the key ingredients toward spin-based quantum information processing.