The resonant cable might someday be used in quantum computers, which would rely on quantum behavior to carry out certain functions, such as code-breaking and database searches, exponentially faster than today’s most powerful computers. Moreover, the superconducting components in the NIST demonstration offer the possibility of being easier to manufacture and scale up to a practical size than many competing candidates, such as individual atoms, for storing and transporting data in quantum computers.
Artist's rendition of the NIST superconducting quantum computing cable. Credit: Michael Kemper
Unlike traditional electronic devices, which store information in the form of digital bits that each possess a value of either 0 or 1, each superconducting circuit acts as a quantum bit, or qubit, which can hold values of 0 and 1 at the same time. Qubits in this “superposition” of both values may allow many more calculations to be performed simultaneously than is possible with traditional digital bits, offering the possibility of faster and more powerful computing devices. The resonant section of cable shuttling the information between the two superconducting circuits is known to engineers as a “quantum bus,” and it could transport data between two or more qubits.
The NIST work is featured on the cover of the Sept. 27 issue of Nature. The scientists encoded information in one qubit, transferred this information as microwave energy to the resonant section of cable for a short storage time of 10 nanoseconds, and then successfully shuttled the information to a second qubit.
“We tested a new element for quantum information systems,” says NIST physicist Ray Simmonds. “It’s really significant because it means we can couple more qubits together and transfer information between them easily using one simple element.”
The NIST work, together with another letter in the same issue of Nature by a Yale University group, is the first demonstration of a superconducting quantum bus. Whereas the NIST scientists used the bus to store and transfer information between independent qubits, the Yale group used it to enable an interaction of two qubits, creating a combined superposition state. These three actions, demonstrated collectively by the two groups, are essential for performing the basic functions needed in a superconductor-based quantum information processor of the future.
In addition to storing and transferring information, NIST’s resonant cable also offers a means of “refreshing” superconducting qubits, which normally can maintain the same delicate quantum state for only half a microsecond. Disturbances such as electric or magnetic noise in the circuit can rapidly destroy a qubit’s superposition state. With design improvements, the NIST technology might be used to repeatedly refresh the data and extend qubit lifetime more than 100-fold, sufficient to create a viable short-term quantum computer memory, Simmonds says. NIST’s resonant cable might also be used to transfer quantum information between matter and light -- microwave energy is a low-frequency form of light -- and thus link quantum computers to ultra-secure quantum communications systems.
If they can be built, quantum computers -- harnessing the unusual rules of quantum mechanics, the principles governing nature’s smallest particles -- might be used for applications such as fast and efficient code breaking, optimizing complex systems such as airline schedules, making counterfeit-proof money, and solving complex mathematical problems. Quantum information technology in general allows for custom-designed systems for fundamental tests of quantum physics and as-yet-unknown futuristic applications.
A superconducting qubit is about the width of a human hair. NIST researchers fabricate two qubits on a sapphire microchip, which sits in a shielded box about 8 cubic millimeters in size. The resonant section of cable is 7 millimeters long, similar to the coaxial wiring used in cable television but much thinner and flatter, zig-zagging around the 1.1 mm space between the two qubits. Like a guitar string, the resonant cable can be stimulated so that it hums or “resonates” at a particular tone or frequency in the microwave range. Quantum information is stored as energy in the form of microwave particles or photons.
Laura Ost | EurekAlert!
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy