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How do we build (better?) trapped ion quantum computers?

Crystal Senko


Dr. Senko is an experimental atomic physicist who specializes in trapped ion quantum computing and quantum simulation. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Trapped Ion Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, where her research group focuses on the development of tools, techniques, and technologies for barium-ion-based quantum processors. She currently works on implementing multi-level quantum logic and developing hardware description languages and synthesis tools for trapped ion quantum simulators, and is one of two co-PIs at Waterloo leading an effort to prototype open-access quantum computers that will be made available to the wider research community.


You’ve heard about quantum computers in the news, but what can they do and how do they actually work? In this talk, I will describe the operating principles of trapped-ion-based quantum computers and commonly faced engineering challenges in building them. Trapped atomic ions are the technology underpinning some of today’s highest performing quantum computers. I will give an overview of the different enabling technologies that are typically integrated in a trapped ion system, from the software and hardware in the digital control stack to the ion source itself, through the lens of a major project at Waterloo that aims to develop a quantum processor based on barium ions. As an outlook, I will discuss some of the next-generation techniques that these research machines may enable, including my group’s recent efforts toward compressing multiple quantum bits’ worth of information into a single ion in so-called multi-level qudits.


Crystal Senko Headshot
Crystal Senko
University of Waterloo
ECE 125
7 Nov 2023, 10:30am until 11:30am