Stabilizing the Unstable Quantum Bit with Samarium Hexaboride
A platform for stable quantum computing, a playground for exotic physics
Excerpts and salient points ~
+ Harvard University researchers have demonstrated the first material that can have both strongly correlated electron interactions and topological properties. Not entirely sure what that means? Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it. All you need to know right now is that this discovery not only paves the way for more stable quantum computing but also an entirely new platform to explore the wild world of exotic physics.
“Over the last ten years, a bunch of papers have come out saying yes and a bunch of papers have come out saying no,” said Pirie. “The crux of the issue is that most topological materials don’t have strongly interacting electrons, meaning the electrons move too quickly to feel each other. But samarium hexaboride does, meaning that electrons inside this material slow down enough to interact strongly. In this realm, the theory gets fairly speculative and it’s been unclear whether or not it’s possible for materials with strongly interacting properties to also be topological. As experimentalists, we’ve been largely operating blind with materials like this.”
+ As it relates to quantum computing, strongly interacting topological materials may be able to protect qubits from forgetting their quantum state, a process called decoherence. If we could encode the quantum information in a topologically protected state, it is less susceptible to external noise that can accidentally switch the qubit,” said Hoffman. “Microsoft already has a large team pursuing topological quantum computation in composite materials and nanostructures. Our work demonstrates a first in a single topological material that harnesses strong electron interactions that might eventually be used for topological quantum computing.”
+ “The next step will be to use the combination of topologically protected quantum states and strong interactions to engineer novel quantum states of matter, such as topological superconductors,” said Dirk Morr, Professor of Physics at University of Illinois at Chicago and the senior theorist on the paper. “Their extraordinary properties could open unprecedented possibilities for the implementation of topological quantum bits.”
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