Two research teams created two types of quantum bits, or “qubits” – the building blocks for quantum computers – that each process quantum data with an accuracy above 99%.
University of New South Wales researchers led by Prof. Dzurak has discovered a way to create an “artificial atom” qubit with a device remarkably similar to the silicon transistors used in consumer electronics, known as MOSFETs. Post-doctoral researcher Menno Veldhorst, lead author on the paper reporting the artificial atom qubit, says, “It is really amazing that we can make such an accurate qubit using pretty much the same devices as we have in our laptops and phones”
Morello’s team has been pushing the “natural” phosphorus atom qubit to the extremes of performance. Dr Juha Muhonen, a post-doctoral researcher and lead author on the natural atom qubit paper, notes: “The phosphorus atom contains in fact two qubits: the electron, and the nucleus. With the nucleus in particular, we have achieved accuracy close to 99.99%. That means only one error for every 10,000 quantum operations.”
Dzurak explains that, “even though methods to correct errors do exist, their effectiveness is only guaranteed if the errors occur less than 1% of the time. Our experiments are among the first in solid-state, and the first-ever in silicon, to fulfill this requirement.”
The high-accuracy operations for both natural and artificial atom qubits is achieved by placing each inside a thin layer of specially purified silicon, containing only the silicon-28 isotope. This isotope is perfectly non-magnetic and, unlike those in naturally occurring silicon, does not disturb the quantum bit. The purified silicon was provided through collaboration with Professor Kohei Itoh from Keio University in Japan.
The next step for the researchers is to build pairs of highly accurate quantum bits. Large quantum computers are expected to consist of many thousands or millions of qubits and may integrate both natural and artificial atoms.
Morello’s research team also established a world-record “coherence time” for a single quantum bit held in solid state. “Coherence time is a measure of how long you can preserve quantum information before it’s lost,” Morello says. The longer the coherence time, the easier it becomes to perform long sequences of operations, and therefore more complex calculations.
The team was able to store quantum information in a phosphorus nucleus for more than 30 seconds. “Half a minute is an eternity in the quantum world. Preserving a ‘quantum superposition’ for such a long time, and inside what is basically a modified version of a normal transistor, is something that almost nobody believed possible until today,” Morello says.
“For our two groups to simultaneously obtain these dramatic results with two quite different systems is very special, in particular because we are really great mates,” adds Dzurak.
Abstract – An addressable quantum dot qubit with fault-tolerant control-fidelity
xciting progress towards spin-based quantum computing has recently been made with qubits realized using nitrogen-vacancy centres in diamond and phosphorus atoms in silicon. For example, long coherence times were made possible by the presence of spin-free isotopes of carbon and silicon. However, despite promising single-atom nanotechnologies6, there remain substantial challenges in coupling such qubits and addressing them individually. Conversely, lithographically defined quantum dots have an exchange coupling that can be precisely engineered, but strong coupling to noise has severely limited their dephasing times and control fidelities. Here, we combine the best aspects of both spin qubit schemes and demonstrate a gate-addressable quantum dot qubit in isotopically engineered silicon with a control fidelity of 99.6%, obtained via Clifford-based randomized benchmarking and consistent with that required for fault-tolerant quantum computing. This qubit has dephasing time T2* = 120 μs and coherence time T2 = 28 ms, both orders of magnitude larger than in other types of semiconductor qubit. By gate-voltage-tuning the electron g*-factor we can Stark shift the electron spin resonance frequency by more than 3,000 times the 2.4 kHz electron spin resonance linewidth, providing a direct route to large-scale arrays of addressable high-fidelity qubits that are compatible with existing manufacturing technologies.
Abstract – Storing quantum information for 30 seconds in a nanoelectronic device
Device structure and the energy states of the electron and nuclear spin qubits.
The spin of an electron or a nucleus in a semiconductor1 naturally implements the unit of quantum information—the qubit. In addition, because semiconductors are currently used in the electronics industry, developing qubits in semiconductors would be a promising route to realize scalable quantum information devices. The solid-state environment, however, may provide deleterious interactions between the qubit and the nuclear spins of surrounding atoms, or charge and spin fluctuations arising from defects in oxides and interfaces. For materials such as silicon, enrichment of the spin-zero 28Si isotope drastically reduces spin-bath decoherence. Experiments on bulk spin ensembles in 28Si crystals have indeed demonstrated extraordinary coherence times. However, it remained unclear whether these would persist at the single-spin level, in gated nanostructures near amorphous interfaces. Here, we present the coherent operation of individual 31P electron and nuclear spin qubits in a top-gated nanostructure, fabricated on an isotopically engineered 28Si substrate. The 31P nuclear spin sets the new benchmark coherence time (over 30 s with Carr–Purcell–Meiboom–Gill (CPMG) sequence) of any single qubit in the solid state and reaches over 99.99% control fidelity. The electron spin CPMG coherence time exceeds 0.5 s, and detailed noise spectroscopy indicates that—contrary to widespread belief—it is not limited by the proximity to an interface. Instead, decoherence is probably dominated by thermal and magnetic noise external to the device, and is thus amenable to further improvement.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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