Surface-Induced Decoherence and Heating of Charged Particles

Levitating charged particles in ultrahigh vacuum provides a preeminent platform for quantum information processing, for quantum-enhanced force and torque sensing, for probing physics beyond the standard model, and for high-mass tests of the quantum superposition principle. Existing setups, ranging from single atomic ions to ion chains and crystals to charged molecules and nanoparticles, are crucially impacted by fluctuating electric fields emanating from nearby electrodes used to control the motion. In this article, we provide a theoretical toolbox for describing the rotational and translational quantum dynamics of charged nano- to microscale objects near metallic and dielectric surfaces, as characterized by macroscopic dielectric response functions. The resulting quantum master equations describe the coherent surface-particle interaction, due to image charges and Casimir-Polder potentials, as well as surface-induced decoherence and heating, with the experimentally observed frequency and distance scaling. We explicitly evaluate the master equations for relevant setups, thereby providing the framework for describing and mitigating surface-induced decoherence as required in future quantum technological applications.


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