Atomic Circuits

Atomic circuitry is a new innovation in “atomtronic” technology currently being pioneered by Los Alamos physicists Malcolm Boshier and Changhyun Ryu. Instead of directing electrons through conducting wires, Boshier and Ryu’s atom circuit works by directing ultracold rubidium atoms using powerful lasers. The rubidium atoms are attracted to the high energy electric field generated by the lasers and since the atoms are extremely cold, the lasers can trace paths more quickly than the atoms can move, allowing the circuits to be dynamically created. Future applications of this technology may include quantum computing and advanced signal processing.

"If we want our atom stream to turn, we paint a bend in the circuit with a vertical laser... The result is a lot like fiber optics, but with the roles reversed: it's light guiding matter instead of matter guiding light."

Malcolm Boshier

Changhyun Ryu (left) and Malcolm Boshier with laser array.
Atomtronic schematic. (jila.colorado.edu)