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Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics


Spin chains have been proposed as quantum wires in many quantum-information processing architectures. Coherent transmission of quantum information in spin chains over short distances is enabled by their internal dynamics, which drives the transport of single-spin excitations in perfectly polarized chains. Given the practical challenge of preparing the chain in a pure state, we propose to use a chain that is initially in the maximally mixed state. We compare the transport properties of pure and mixed-state chains and find similarities that enable the experimental study of pure-state transfer via mixed-state chains. We also demonstrate protocols for the perfect transfer of quantum information in these chains. Remarkably, mixed-state chains allow the use of Hamiltonians that do not preserve the total number of single-spin excitations and are more readily obtainable from the naturally occurring magnetic dipolar interaction. We discuss experimental implementations using solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance and defect centers in diamond.