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The Science Explained
The Alice Challenge
In the first stage of the Alice experiment we challenge people all over the world to find optimal operations for cooling down a cloud of atoms.
The Alice challenge is to find the optimal cooling process of an atom cloud—the end goal is to have the largest possible amount of cold atoms in a trap after several cooling sequences.
Atoms are cooled down using a technique called evaporative cooling, the same phenomenon that cools down a hot cup of coffee. The hottest atoms escape as steam, thereby cooling the coffee. In a similar we evaporate hot atoms from the cloud by lowering the strength of the trap.
In the Alice experiment we have three overlapping traps, two optical and one magnetic. The strength of each trap can be controlled by the user. When lowering the strength of traps, the hottest atoms can escape. The atoms that are left behind need time to equalize the new temperature of the cloud. This makes the shape of the ramps crucial for the efficiency of the cooling process.
The goal of the Alice challenge is to find the optimal shape of the ramps controlling the traps. With the user-friendly interface, anyone can now take on this challenge!
The Science of Alice
Extremely cold atoms are essential for building a quantum computer. The atoms have to be as cold as 100 nK, which is far colder than outer space.
In order to reach such low temperatures for the atoms, dozens of devices such as lasers and mirrors need to be controlled with microsecond precision over a long timespan.
The Alice control system, developed at Aarhus University, is capable of handling the complex sequences of this hardware. The experiment can be defined as a set of high-level building blocks. These can be used to move the user’s focus away from an implementation that requires knowledge of hardware, and allows them to solve problems solely using their physics knowledge in the experiments.
Alice software is set up to run as a server, enabling remote optimization of the experiment. This means that people all over the world can become a part of the Alice quantum experimentation!
Example of the evaporation waveform which turns the atoms from a hot cloud into an ultracold state called a Bose-Einstein condensate.