Manufacturing News, Research and Development

UNSW quantum computing engineers perform multiple control methods in one atom

University of New South Wales (UNSW) have demonstrated multiple ways to write quantum information in silicon for more flexible quantum chips design.

Quantum computing engineers at UNSW have shown they can encode quantum information, which is the special data in a quantum computer, in four unique ways within a single atom, inside a silicon chip.

The achievement could alleviate some of the challenges in operating tens of millions of quantum computing units in just a few square millimetres of a silicon quantum computer chip.

In a paper published recently in Nature Communications the engineers described how they used the sixteen quantum ‘states’ of an antimony atom to encode quantum information.

Antimony is a heavy atom that can be implanted in a silicon chip, replacing one of the existing silicon atoms.

This was chosen as its nucleus possesses eight distinct quantum states, plus an electron with two quantum states. Resulting in a total of 8 x 2 = 16 quantum states, all within one atom,

Reaching the same number of states using simple quantum bits, also known as qubits which are the basic unit of quantum information, would require manufacturing and coupling four of them.

Lead author Irene Fernandez de Fuentes says the team, under the guidance of Scientia Professor Andrea Morello, drew on more than a decade’s work that had established different methods of quantum control to show all were possible within the same atom.

The quantum computers of the future will have millions, if not billions of qubits working simultaneously to crunch numbers and simulate models in minutes what would take today’s supercomputers hundreds or even thousands of years to complete.

“We are investing in a technology that is harder, slower, but for very good reasons, one of them being the extreme density of information that it’ll be able to handle,” said Prof. Morello.

The research group will return to the lab to use the large computational space of the antimony atom to perform quantum operations that are much more sophisticated than those afforded by plain qubits.

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