(ORDO NEWS) — On the way to fully functioning and capable quantum computers, another record has been broken: complete control of a 6-qubit quantum processor in silicon.
Qubits (or quantum bits) are the quantum equivalents of classical computing bits, only they can potentially process much more information. Thanks to quantum physics, they can be in two states at the same time, and not just in one or one 0.
The tricky part is getting lots of qubits to behave the way we want them to, so this jump to six is important.
The ability to work with them in silicon the same material used in modern electronic devices makes the technology potentially more viable.
“Today, the challenge of quantum computing has two parts,” says quantum computing researcher Stefan Philips from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
“Development of qubits of good enough quality and development of an architecture that allows the creation of large systems of qubits.”
“Our work fits both categories. And since the overall goal of building a quantum computer is a huge effort, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve contributed in the right direction.”
Qubits are made up of individual electrons pinned in a row 90 nanometers apart (a human hair is about 75,000 nanometers in diameter).
This line of “quantum dots” is embedded in silicon using a structure similar to transistors used in standard processors.
By carefully improving how the electrons are prepared, manipulated, and controlled, the team was able to successfully control their spin, a quantum mechanical property that provides the state of a qubit.
Researchers have also been able to create logic gates and entangle systems of two or three electrons on demand with low error rates.
The researchers used microwaves, magnetic fields, and electrical potentials to control and read the spin of electrons, use them as qubits, and ensure they interact with each other as needed.
“In this study, we are pushing the boundaries of what is possible. the number of qubits in silicon and achieve high initialization accuracy, high readout accuracy, high accuracy of single qubit gates and high accuracy of states with two qubits,” says electrical engineer Lieven Vandersiepen, also from Delft University of Technology.
“What really stands out is that we are demonstrating all these characteristics together in one experiment on a record number of qubits.”
Up to this point, only 3-qubit processors have been successfully built into silicon and controlled to the required level of quality – so we’re a big step forward in terms of what’s possible in this type of qubit.
There are different ways to create qubits, including on superconductors, where many more qubits are used together, and scientists are still figuring out a method that might be the best way forward.
The advantage of silicon is that all production and supply chains are already established, which means that the transition from a scientific laboratory to a real machine should be faster. simple. Work continues to push the qubit record even higher.
“With careful design, it is possible to increase the number of silicon spin qubits while maintaining the same accuracy as for single qubits,” says electrical engineer Mateusz Madzik from the Delft University of Technology.
“The key building block developed in this study could be used to add even more qubits in the next iterations of the study.”
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