Artificial atoms create stable qubits for quantum computing

A silicon qubit high-frequency measurement stage, which is positioned inside a dilution refrigerator to cool the chip to around 0.1 degrees above absolute zero. Picture: UNSW/Ken Leanfore

Using ANFF NSW equipment, quantum engineers from UNSW Sydney have created artificial atoms in silicon chips that offer improved stability for quantum computing.

In a paper published today in Nature Communications, UNSW quantum computing researchers describe how they created artificial atoms in a silicon ‘quantum dot’, a tiny space in a quantum circuit where electrons are used as qubits (or quantum bits), the basic units of quantum information.

Scientia Professor Andrew Dzurak explains that unlike a real atom, an artificial atom has no nucleus, but it still has shells of electrons whizzing around the centre of the device, rather than around the atom’s nucleus

“The idea of creating artificial atoms using electrons is not new, in fact it was first proposed theoretically in the 1930s and then experimentally demonstrated in the 1990s – although not in silicon. We first made a rudimentary version of it in silicon back in 2013,” says Professor Dzurak, who is an ARC Laureate Fellow and is also director of the Australian National Fabrication Facility at UNSW, where the quantum dot device was manufactured.

“But what really excites us about our latest research is that artificial atoms with a higher number of electrons turn out to be much more robust qubits than previously thought possible, meaning they can be reliably used for calculations in quantum computers. This is significant because qubits based on just one electron can be very unreliable.”

Read the full story on the UNSW website, or the paper in Nature Communications.

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