Home SECURITY the key to the quantum future: how this metal helps create better qubits

the key to the quantum future: how this metal helps create better qubits

the key to the quantum future: how this metal helps create better qubits


Quantum computers are devices that use the features of quantum physics to process information. They can solve tasks that conventional computers can’t, such as deciphering codes, simulating complex systems, and optimizing resources. However, quantum computers face significant challenges in maintaining quantum data for long periods of time. This time is called the coherence time, and it determines how long a qubit – the main element of a quantum computer – can be in a superposition of two states – 0 and 1.

Scientists from various organizations, including the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN), the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), the Center for Cooperative Design for Quantum Advantage (C2QA), and others, are investigating various materials to create qubits with longer coherence times. They discovered that tantalum – a superconducting metal with a high melting point and resistance to corrosion – significantly improves the performance of qubits. Tantalum-based qubits can store quantum information for more than half a millisecond, five times longer than qubits made from other metals.

Tantalum oxide (TaOx) has been characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

To understand why tantalum works so well, the scientists studied its chemical profile using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy at the NSLS-II station. This method makes it possible to determine the composition and thickness of the tantalum oxide layer on the surface of qubits. It turned out that this layer is inhomogeneous and contains different forms of tantalum oxide with different electronic structures and connectivity. It also turned out that the thickness of the tantalum oxide layer depends on how it is formed – in air or in vacuum.

The scientists hypothesized that the inhomogeneity of the tantalum oxide layer could create local electric fields that could interfere with the quantum state of the qubits. They also suggested that some forms of tantalum oxide could be superconductive and reduce energy losses in qubits.

The study could help scientists develop new ways to modify the surface of tantalum to make the tantalum oxide layer more uniform and optimal for qubits. The experiment will help create more powerful and reliable quantum computers in the future.


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