With their superior properties, topological qubits could help make a breakthrough in developing a quantum computer designed for global applications. So far, no one has yet succeeded in demonstrating the existence of a quantum bit, or qubit for short, of this type unambiguously in the laboratory. However, the scientists at Forschungszentrum Jülich have gone a long way to making this a reality. For the first time, they succeeded in integrating a topological insulator into a conventional superconducting qubit. Just in time for “World Quantum Day” on April 14, new hybrid qubits appeared on the cover of the magazine’s latest issue nano letters.
Quantum computers are the computers of the future. Using quantum effects, they promise to provide solutions to very complex problems that cannot be addressed by conventional computers in a realistic time frame. However, the widespread use of these computers remains elusive. Current quantum computers typically contain only a small number of qubits. The main problem is that they are very error prone. The larger the system, the more difficult it is to isolate it completely from its environment.
So many hopes are based on a new kind of quantum bit: the topological qubit. This approach is taken by many research groups as well as companies such as Microsoft. This type of qubit has the peculiarity of being topologically protected; The special engineering structure of superconductors as well as the special properties of their electronic materials ensure the preservation of quantum information. Therefore, topological qubits are particularly robust and largely insensitive to external sources of decoherence. It also appears to allow for fast switching times similar to those achieved by the traditional superconducting qubits that Google and IBM use in today’s quantum processors.
However, it is not yet clear whether we will succeed in producing topological qubits. In fact, there is still a lack of a suitable physical basis for the generation of experimentally necessary quasiparticles for this purpose. These particles are also known as Majorana states. So far, it can only be demonstrated theoretically, but not empirically. Hybrid qubits, as first created by a research group led by Dr Peter Schaufelgen at the Peter Grunberg Institute (PGI-9) in Forschungszentrum Jülich, now open up new possibilities in this field. It already contains topological materials at critical points. Therefore, this new type of hybrid qubit provides researchers with a new experimental platform to test the behavior of topological materials in highly sensitive quantum circuits.
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