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!
Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences