Engineers Just Built an Impressively Stable Quantum Silicon Chip From Artificial Atoms

Newly created artificial atoms on a silicon chip could become the new basis for quantum computing.

Newly created artificial atoms on a silicon chip could become the new basis for quantum computing.

Engineers in Australia have found a way to make these artificial atoms more stable, which in turn could produce more consistent quantum bits, or qubits – the basic units of information in a quantum system.

 

The research builds on previous work by the team, wherein they produced the very first qubits on a silicon chip, which could process information with over 99 percent accuracy. Now, they have found a way to minimise the error rate caused by imperfections in the silicon.

"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," said quantum engineer Andrew Dzurak of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia.

"This is significant because qubits based on just one electron can be very unreliable."

In a real atom, electrons whizz in three dimensions around a nucleus. These three-dimensional orbits are called electron shells, and elements can have different numbers of electrons.

Artificial atoms – also known as quantum dots – are nanoscale semiconducting crystals with a space that can trap electrons, and confine their movement in three dimensions, holding them in place with electric fields.

 

The team created their atoms using a metal surface gate electrode to apply voltage to the silicon, attracting spare electrons from the silicon into the quantum dot.

"In a real atom, you…

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