A team of physicists at the University of Innsbruck, led by Philipp Schindler and Rainer Blatt, has been the first to demonstrate a crucial element for a future functioning quantum computer: repetitive error correction. This allows scientists to correct errors occurring in a quantum computer efficiently. The researchers have published their findings in the scientific journal Science.
The Innsbruck physicists demonstrate the mechanism by storing three calcium ions in an ion trap. All three particles are used as quantum bits (qubits), where one ion represents the system qubit and the other two ions auxiliary qubits. “First we entangle the system qubit with the other qubits, which transfers the quantum information to all three particles,” says Philipp Schindler. “Then a quantum algorithm determines whether an error occurs and if so, which one. Subsequently, the algorithm itself corrects the error.“ After having made the correction, the auxiliary qubits are reset using a laser beam. “This last point is the new element in our experiment, which enables repetitive error correction,“ says Rainer Blatt. “Some years ago, American colleagues demonstrated the general functioning of quantum error correction. Our new mechanism allows us to repeatedly and efficiently correct errors.“