Open-Source Software for Quantum Information

Jan 23, 2015


quantum information and ion traps

NIST has partnered with the private sector to develop the next-generation open-source control software for quantum information systems. NIST is a world leader in quantum information research, harnessing the strange properties of quantum mechanics (nature’s instruction book for atoms, photons, and other microscopic systems) to vastly improve computational power, make secure communications systems, and affect many other applications. Quantum information products* are already coming to market, with much greater impacts expected in the future.

To promote both quantum information research and products/applications, the new NIST Advanced Real-Time Infrastructure for Quantum Physics (ARTIQ) software makes it easy to give very complex commands with only a few lines of easily understood code, while preserving the exquisite timing control needed for these complex experiments and applications.

Previous software either emphasized ease of use but with poor timing control (algorithms on a PC), or tight timing but difficulty in programming (programmable chips). NIST and private-sector partner M-Labs are developing a unique system that enables nanosecond-level timing control with high level programming capabilities.

This project is being developed by members of the NIST research group led by Dave Wineland who shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics for his leadership in quantum-based research.

* Examples include quantum key distribution schemes from several commercial vendors and early-stage quantum computing products.