Researchers promise advances in quantum computers with flip-flop qubits

Artist's impression of a 'flip flop' qubit in an entangled quantum state (Image courtesy Tony Melov)
Artist’s impression of a ‘flip flop’ qubit in an entangled quantum state (Image courtesy Tony Melov)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes the development of a new type of quantum computer that, according to the authors, resolves many problems with this type of computer. A team of engineers at the University of New South Wales, Australia, invented a new architecture based on flip-flop qubits that is supposed to make the production of large-scale quantum chips much simpler and cheaper.

Quantum computers have been developed for years among discussions, such as those on D-Wave systems classification, and especially problems. There are many very technical and complex considerations regarding the development of quantum systems, which are for the moment limited and expensive. However, the possibility that qubits, the basic units of quantum information, may be in superposition states, offers the possibility of solving very complex problems potentially much more quickly than conventional systems.

To solve at least some of the problems of current quantum systems, the authors of the article invented a new type of qubit that works like a flip-flop, a very simple electronic circuit that can be used as elementary memory. In this case, a technique was used which allows qubits to communicate with each other at distances much higher than those used at the moment, which must remain at distances not exceeding 20 nanometers.

In this project, the quantum chip is made in silicon coated with an insulating layer of silicon oxide and on top of it there are metallic electrodes working at temperatures close to absolute zero and in the presence of a very powerful magnetic field. A single phosphor atom inside it can be used to build two qubits using an electron and the atom nucleus. According to the engineers, those qubits have individually demonstrated that they maintain a record coherence.

To use a qubit, an electron is moved a little bit away from the nucleus of its atom, using the electrodes on top of it. By doing this, an electric dipole is also created. It can interact with other electrical dipoles at greater distances than the qubits used today.

This research provided very interesting results but in these cases the problem is always turning a laboratory experiment into a device that can be used in practice. In the specific case, it’s about assembling many qubits and making them work together keeping the promises of quantum chips produced on a large scale and cheaper than the existing ones.

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