Ion traps

Ions caught in a trap

The development of ion traps achieved its breakthrough already in the mid-80s and has been used since then as method for researching isolated electrically charged atoms or molecules. From the original idea of capturing ions in electrical and magnetic fields, over time a number of types of ion traps were developed and optimized for different applications.

Assembled ion trap in chip carrier

The applications of Paul-type ion traps range from analyses such as mass spectroscopy of ions, molecules, and clusters to spectroscopic tests of trapped material. Currently very relevant applications of ion traps include those on the part of American and European researchers for processing quantum information to study quantum algorithms.

In the newest studies micro traps produced by lasers are used. The traps consist of three geometrically different components, whose basic structures, in a first step, are cut out of a ceramic wafer with the ultrashort pulse laser.

Gold-coated and laser-structured trap chips with spacer

The individual segments of the chip are subsequently coated with gold. In the final step the insulating or the exposing of the individual functional areas of the chip is carried out. This is accomplished using a USP laser to drill insulator channels, cut contact bridges and produce conductor paths through laser ablation.

One of the benefits of this new kind of trap is the high oscillation frequency of the trapped particles, which intensifies the entrapment of the particles and shortens the time necessary, for example, for quantum logic operations. Another benefit is the high degree of geometric precision, whereby the electric potentials of the fabricated traps exactly match that which was calculated and optimized by scientists.

A very successful combination of the drilling, cutting and structuring laser techniques, and on a very small scale.