Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New silicon structure opens the gate to quantum computers

12.12.2017

In a major step toward making a quantum computer using everyday materials, a team led by researchers at Princeton University has constructed a key piece of silicon hardware capable of controlling quantum behavior between two electrons with extremely high precision. The study was published Dec. 7 in the journal Science.

The team constructed a gate that controls interactions between the electrons in a way that allows them to act as the quantum bits of information, or qubits, necessary for quantum computing. The demonstration of this nearly error-free, two-qubit gate is an important early step in building a more complex quantum computing device from silicon, the same material used in conventional computers and smartphones.


The researchers demonstrated the ability to control with precision the behavior of two silicon-based quantum bits, or qubits, paving the way for making complex, multi-qubit devices using technology that is less expensive and easier to manufacture than other approaches.

Image credit: David Zajac, Princeton University

"We knew we needed to get this experiment to work if silicon-based technology was going to have a future in terms of scaling up and building a quantum computer," said Jason Petta, a professor of physics at Princeton University. "The creation of this high-fidelity two-qubit gate opens the door to larger scale experiments."

Silicon-based devices are likely to be less expensive and easier to manufacture than other technologies for achieving a quantum computer. Although other research groups and companies have announced quantum devices containing 50 or more qubits, those systems require exotic materials such as superconductors or charged atoms held in place by lasers.

Quantum computers can solve problems that are inaccessible with conventional computers. The devices may be able to factor extremely large numbers or find the optimal solutions for complex problems. They could also help researchers understand the physical properties of extremely small particles such as atoms and molecules, leading to advances in areas such as materials science and drug discovery.

Building a quantum computer requires researchers to create qubits and couple them to each other with high fidelity. Silicon-based quantum devices use a quantum property of electrons called "spin" to encode information. The spin can point either up or down in a manner analogous to the north and south poles of a magnet. In contrast, conventional computers work by manipulating the electron's negative charge.

Achieving a high-performance, spin-based quantum device has been hampered by the fragility of spin states -- they readily flip from up to down or vice versa unless they can be isolated in a very pure environment. By building the silicon quantum devices in Princeton's Quantum Device Nanofabrication Laboratory, the researchers were able to keep the spins coherent -- that is, in their quantum states -- for relatively long periods of time.

To construct the two-qubit gate, the researchers layered tiny aluminum wires onto a highly ordered silicon crystal. The wires deliver voltages that trap two single electrons, separated by an energy barrier, in a well-like structure called a double quantum dot.

By temporarily lowering the energy barrier, the researchers allow the electrons to share quantum information, creating a special quantum state called entanglement. These trapped and entangled electrons are now ready for use as qubits, which are like conventional computer bits but with superpowers: while a conventional bit can represent a zero or a 1, each qubit can be simultaneously a zero and a 1, greatly expanding the number of possible permutations that can be compared instantaneously.

"The challenge is that it's very difficult to build artificial structures small enough to trap and control single electrons without destroying their long storage times," said David Zajac, a graduate student in physics at Princeton and first-author on the study. "This is the first demonstration of entanglement between two electron spins in silicon, a material known for providing one of the cleanest environments for electron spin states."

The researchers demonstrated that they can use the first qubit to control the second qubit, signifying that the structure functioned as a controlled NOT (CNOT) gate, which is the quantum version of a commonly used computer circuit component. The researchers control the behavior of the first qubit by applying a magnetic field. The gate produces a result based on the state of the first qubit: If the first spin is pointed up, then the second qubit's spin will flip, but if the first spin is down, the second one will not flip.

"The gate is basically saying it is only going to do something to one particle if the other particle is in a certain configuration," Petta said. "What happens to one particle depends on the other particle."

The researchers showed that they can maintain the electron spins in their quantum states with a fidelity exceeding 99 percent and that the gate works reliably to flip the spin of the second qubit about 75 percent of the time. The technology has the potential to scale to more qubits with even lower error rates, according to the researchers.

"This work stands out in a worldwide race to demonstrate the CNOT gate, a fundamental building block for quantum computation, in silicon-based qubits," said HongWen Jiang, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California-Los Angeles. "The error rate for the two-qubit operation is unambiguously benchmarked. It is particularly impressive that this extraordinarily difficult experiment, which requires a sophisticated device fabrication and an exquisite control of quantum states, is done in a university lab consisting of only a few researchers."

###

Additional researchers at Princeton are graduate student Felix Borjans and associate research scholar Anthony Sigillito. The team included input on the theory aspects of the work by Jacob Taylor, a professor at the Joint Quantum Institute and Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Maryland, and Maximilian Russ and Guido Burkard at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

Research was sponsored by U.S. Army Research Office grant W911NF-15-1-0149, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's EPiQS Initiative through grant GBMF4535, and National Science Foundation grant DMR-1409556. Devices were fabricated in the Princeton University Quantum Device Nanofabrication Laboratory.

Media Contact

Catherine Zandonella
czandone@princeton.edu
609-258-0541

 @Princeton

http://www.princeton.edu 

Catherine Zandonella | EurekAlert!

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Earthquake researchers finalists for supercomputing prize
19.11.2018 | University of Tokyo

nachricht Putting food-safety detection in the hands of consumers
15.11.2018 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

When AI and optoelectronics meet: Researchers take control of light properties

20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>