New Quantum Materials from Rare Earth Oxides to be Researched
Clemson materials research may advance quantum computing
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+ One major consideration is how the material functions at extremely cold temperatures. To work properly, quantum computers operate at about minus-450 Fahrenheit, which prevents qubits from flipping between quantum states and introducing computational errors.
+ This presents a major challenge for new materials. “By the time you cool material down to about 50 Kelvin or minus-370 Fahrenheit, the magnetic vectors have order in them,” Kolis explained. “But we want a material to supercool and have the magnetic vectors float around in the crystal and never quite fully order, which is what’s needed for the quantum phenomenon to take over.”
“The checklist of things you’ve got to hit to get a good candidate material for quantum computing is pretty long,” said Kolis, the Tobey-Beaudrot Professor of Chemistry in the department of chemistry.
+ To overcome this challenge, Kolis proposes growing high-quality single crystals made from germanate pyrochlores at lower temperature and pressure than ordinarily required of the rare earth elements. Typically, researchers heat these compounds to their melting point of about 4000 degrees Fahrenheit to manipulate their properties.
+ However, heating the rare earths to that extreme introduces all sorts of problems and results in defective material, Kolis said. But with his high-pressure technique, Kolis only has to heat the material to about 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.
+ Unlike conventional computers that store information in binary form (either 1 or 0), quantum computers exploit the strange properties of quantum physics to store information in multiple forms known as qubits. Consequently, operations can be done much faster and computational power increases exponentially.
+ In order for quantum computing to reach its full potential, however, researchers need to develop new quantum materials to make more reliable qubits, the basic elements of a quantum circuit — analogous to semiconductor transistors and integrated circuits in today’s computers.
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