RSS icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Vimeo icon
YouTube icon

Labs IRL: Boxing up atomic ions

JQI Podcast Episode 14
Marko Centina, Kai Hudek, and Daiwei Zhu assembling an ion trap vacuum system in a clean room. Their suits prevent contaminants from entering the apparatus. (Credit: K. Beck)

What makes a university physics lab tick? Sean Kelley grabs a mic and heads to a lab that's trying to build an early quantum computer out of atomic ions. Marko Cetina and Kai Hudek, two research scientists at the University of Maryland who run the lab, explain what it takes to keep things from burning down and muse about the future of quantum computers.

This is the first installment of Labs in Real Life—Labs IRL, for short—a recurring segment on Relatively Certain that will explore what it's actually like to work in a university lab. (The work in this lab is supported by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) LogiQ Program through the U.S. Army Research Office.)

This episode of Relatively Certain was produced by Sean Kelley, Emily Edwards and Chris Cesare. It features music by Dave Depper, dustmotes and Podington Bear. Relatively Certain is a production of the Joint Quantum Institute, a research partnership between the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and you can find it on iTunesGoogle Play or Soundcloud.

Recent Podcast Episodes

Photo of a diamond chip NV experiment

We all know that diamonds can hold great sentimental (and monetary) value. As luck may have it, diamonds—particularly defective ones, with little errors in their crystal structure—also hold great scientific value.

An artist's depiction of an atom sitting on a representation of a warped spacetime

Gravity is a fixture of our everyday lives, particularly apparent when we drop a piece of toast on the kitchen floor or trip over an unseen step. Not surprisingly, physicists have studied gravity heavily over the centuries.

An artists's rendering of an atom with galaxies embedded inside

There’s a big unsolved mystery in physics: The cosmic balance sheet for matter in our universe just doesn’t add up. Galaxies all over space move as though they are much heavier than they appear.