Project outline

Overall objectives, approach, methodology and research training

Rare-earth ions (lanthanides) play an increasingly important role in modern optical technologies. Lanthanides exhibit remarkable luminescence properties, e.g. in terms of energy transfer or as energy reservoirs. They are extensively used in solid-state laser physics, e.g. the Nd:YAG laser or erbium-doped fibre amplifiers. The latter are key components in telecommunication networks. Rare-earths are also employed as luminescent materials in lamps or as radiation detectors (scintillators) in X-ray imaging and particle physics. Rare-earths are already commercially omnipresent.

However, the full potential of rare-earth ions is not yet explored – in particular with regard to applications in the rapidly evolving field of future information technology. Our modern society already reaches the limits of conventional electronic data processing, in terms of storage capacity and clock rate. Future information technologies require novel types of memories (e.g. based on interactions between light and quantized matter), algorithms (e.g. based on quantum computations) and materials (e.g. appropriate quantum systems). Rare-earth ion doped solids are very promising candidates to permit implementation of future quantum technology. The media combine the advantages of solids (i.e. large density and scalability) and atomic gases (i.e. long coherence times).

  • The scientific goal of CIPRIS is to build on the successful implementations of rare-earth doped media and extend the range of applications towards future information technology. In particular, we aim at the development of novel information processors, driven by coherent interactions between radiation fields and rare-earth ion doped solids.
  • The goal of CIPRIS in terms of training is the development of the next generation of young researchers with appropriate skills to exploit the concepts of rare-earth-based information technology – pushing it towards commercial applications. This contributes to a European knowledge base for future information technology.

CIPRIS follows two scientific approaches : Classical processing and quantum processing. Both are meant as pronounced inter-disciplinary research efforts, combining physics, material science and information technology. The work programme and the selection of partners in CIPRIS reflect the inter-disciplinary competences : Specific know-how in material science is required for high quality crystal growth. Samples will be characterized by methods from physics, e.g. high resolution laser and radiofrequency (RF) spectroscopy. Such techniques, in combination with concepts from atomic physics and quantum optics (e.g. coherent interactions between light and matter, also at the level of single photons), permit manipulation and preparation of rare-earth media for applications of information processing. Also technological expertise, e.g. cryo-physics, laser physics, or RF technology are required and provided by CIPRIS. To exploit the results, the public and private sector partners will closely cooperate to develop commercial demonstration devices.
The different fields in CIPRIS (material science, laser physics and spectroscopy, quantum optics and information science) are closely interconnected in our work programme. The design of efficient protocols for novel data processors in coherently-driven rare-earth doped solids, along with development of demonstration experiments and prototypes requires close interaction of all participating scientific disciplines. The early-stage researchers in CIPRIS will be ideally placed to bridge the diverse disciplines and assist in the advance of applications for coherently-driven rare-earth media.

CIPRIS exhibits a pronounced collaborative approach. The network is based on existing scientific contacts between the partners. These close contacts are mirrored, e.g. by annual workshops, dealing with processing in rare-earth media. The workshops, organized by the partners, took place in Geneva (2006), Paris (2007), Darmstadt (2008), Lund (2009), Paris (2010), and Barcelona (2011). During the workshops, we identified the scientific routes for CIPRIS. The meetings also underlined the necessity to provide multi-disciplinary training to young community members. CIPRIS will strengthen the dynamic research community with training capacities on a broad scientific and technological basis.

General objectives : CIPRIS aims at the development and application of classical and quantum processing capacities in rare-earth ion doped crystals. Though classical and quantum processing are fundamentally different, in both cases CIPRIS applies similar tools for preparation and manipulation, e.g. coherent light-matter interactions. The combination of rare-earth doped crystals and light-matter interactions exhibits a promising approach towards realistic implementation of future information technology. CIPRIS intends to significantly push this emerging technology forward.

Figure 1: Interactions between the different disciplines, involved in CIPRIS and connections to industry. For CIPRIS commercial applications towards information processing are most relevant.

General methodology : To achieve the scientific goals, the methodology of CIPRIS is based on close cooperation between partners with pronounced interdisciplinary background in academic and industry research. All research tasks will be conducted as joint, experimental work, supported by theoretical analysis and simulations. Figure 1 schematically depicts the interaction between the contributing disciplines and connections to industry - to exploit the developments of CIPRIS. The interactions are relevant both for research and training. The figure also indicates knowledge transfer to industry partners, which also offers possibilities for participation and integration of young researchers. CIPRIS combines major knowledge from material science (providing techniques for crystal growth), physics/interactions between light and matter (permitting characterization of materials, as well as preparation/manipulation by optical or RF control), and information science (defining the applications in CIPRIS and providing protocols for data processing). The fields are closely connected (e.g. appropriate processing protocols also require know-ledge about material properties, and vice versa the properties of appropriate crystals are defined by the target application).


Prof. Dr. Thomas Halfmann

Nichtlineare Optik/Quantenoptik
Institut für Angewandte Physik
Fachbereich 05 - Physik
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Hochschulstr. 6
D-64289 Darmstadt

+49 6151 16-20740

+49 6151 16-20741 (Sekretariat)

+49 6151 16-20327

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