Monday, February 6

Quantum computing has put the hunt for new materials with quantum properties in the spotlight

The development that quantum computing has experienced over the last two decades, and especially over the last three years, invites us to look to the future with optimism. the quantum processor 127 qubit Eagle presented by IBM in the middle of last November encourages us to dream of the possibility that the increase in the quality of quantum bits will bring us closer to the long-awaited error correction.

In fact, as we told you at the end of January, three independent research teams have managed to fine-tune superconducting qubits with extremely high precision. These quantum bits can be manufactured using the silicon-based semiconductor production technology currently used to produce high-integration chips.

However, the most important thing is that its accuracy is greater than 99%, and according to these scientists when the incidence of errors is below 1% quantum error-correcting protocols find it much easier to get the job done. And this brings us closer (perhaps even much closer) to implementing error-correcting algorithms that would allow us to use quantum computers to solve really significant problems.

This is the current situation, and, as we can see, it invites us to be healthy and reasonably optimistic. However, this does not at all mean that in a few years we will already have fully functional quantum computers that are much more advanced than the prototype quantum computers we are currently working on. The challenges that still need to be overcome they force us to moderate our enthusiasmand one of those challenges is finding new materials with promising quantum properties.

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In search of exotic materials with the best quantum properties

Currently the two most advanced qubit technologies are superconducting quantum bits and ion traps, but this does not mean that they are the only path we can follow in the search for a quantum computer. fully functional. In fact, some research groups are working with ions implanted in macromolecules or neutral atoms due to their extremely interesting potential.

The really important thing is to find a way to produce qubits of the highest possible quality, as well as to develop technologies that favor the scaling of quantum bits to allow the manufacture of processors that bring together not only thousands, but millions of qubits. And in this context it is crucial to find new materials whose properties not only allow scientists to fine-tune higher quality qubits; it is also essential to develop systems that allow quantum computers to communicate with each other as efficiently as possible.

Time crystals: what they are, why they are so revolutionary and how quantum computers are already helping us achieve them

In the field of quantum communications, it is not easy to find a material that allows researchers to explore the quantum properties of light, but there is already a candidate. And it is promising. In an article published in Nature by scientists from the CNRS, which is the French equivalent of the Spanish CSIC, and from the University of Strasbourg, its authors describe the properties of a new material that can presumably act as an interface between the spin of a qubit and the light at the quantum level.

The curious thing is that it is a crystal made up of one of the most exotic rare earths (in case all of them were not already exotic enough): europium. Rare earths are chemical elements that are not necessarily scarce on our planet, but which, however, are difficult to find in a pure state. And europium in particular is a chemical element with peculiar physicochemical properties that make it suitable, among other possible theoretical applications, as a moderator in nuclear fission reactors due to its ability to capture neutrons.


However, the property of this element that, according to these French researchers, makes it attractive in the field of quantum communications is its ability to carry out very precise optical transitions. This quality allows europium crystals to interact at the quantum level with light, and the first experimental tests support this ability. However, the researchers involved in this finding acknowledge that integrating these crystals into photonic devices is complex.

Ultimately, what they are after is to perfect not only a communications system that allows quantum computers to exchange information over long distances, but also to develop a qubit control technology that uses light as a means of interaction. If this line of research succeeds, it is possible that in the future it will allow researchers to develop new quantum computing architectures that are more advanced than the current ones.

Images | IBM

More information | Nature

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