Control of quantum phenomena: Past, present and future

Constantin Brif, Raj Chakrabarti, Herschel Rabitz

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774 Scopus citations


Quantum control is concerned with active manipulation of physical and chemical processes on the atomic and molecular scale. This work presents a perspective of progress in the field of control over quantum phenomena, tracing the evolution of theoretical concepts and experimental methods from early developments to the most recent advances. Among numerous theoretical insights and technological improvements that produced the present state-ofthe-art in quantum control, there have been several breakthroughs of foremost importance. On the technology side, the current experimental successes would be impossible without the development of intense femtosecond laser sources and pulse shapers. On the theory side, the two most critical insights were (i) realizing that ultrafast atomic and molecular dynamics can be controlled via manipulation of quantum interferences and (ii) understanding that optimally shaped ultrafast laser pulses are the most effective means for producing the desired quantum interference patterns in the controlled system. Finally, these theoretical and experimental advances were brought together by the crucial concept of adaptive feedback control (AFC), which is a laboratory procedure employing measurement-driven, closed-loop optimization to identify the best shapes of femtosecond laser control pulses for steering quantum dynamics towards the desired objective. Optimization in AFC experiments is guided by a learning algorithm, with stochastic methods proving to be especially effective. AFC of quantum phenomena has found numerous applications in many areas of the physical and chemical sciences, and this paper reviews the extensive experiments. Other subjects discussed include quantum optimal control theory, quantum control landscapes, the role of theoretical controldesigns in experimental realizations and real-time quantum feedback control. The paper concludes with a perspective of open research directions that are likely to attract significant attention in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number075008
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - Jul 8 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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