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Quantum Computing

Scientists Make Quantum Breakthrough With New Type of Qubit



Topological qubits are being explored to make breakthroughs in the development of a quantum computer designed for universal applications, but nobody has been able to demonstrate a quantum bit like this in a lab. 

In what is a major breakthrough, scientists from Forschungszentrum Jülich have successfully integrated a topological insulator into a conventional superconducting qubit for the first time. 

The new research was published in the journal Nano Letters.

The research group was led by Dr. Peter Schüffelgen at the Peter Grünberg Institute (PGI-9) of Forschungszentrum Jülich

Solving the Most Complex Problems

Quantum computers hold tremendous potential for the future. With quantum effects, these machines could deliver solutions for some of the most complex problems that are unable to be processed by conventional computers in a realistic time frame. Even with these new advancements, the widespread use and implementation of quantum computers still requires a lot of work.

Current machines usually only contain a small number of qubits, and they are often prone to error. As the system increases in size, so does the difficulty of fully isolating it from its environment. 

The Topological Qubit

Because of this, many experts hope a new type of quantum bit called a topological qubit can solve these problems. Researchers are not the only ones working on this, but so are major companies like Microsoft. The topological qubit exhibits the special feature of being topologically protected. The geometric structure of the superconductors and their special electronic material properties also ensure the quantum information is retained. 

Given these features, topological qubits are considered extremely robust and largely immune to external sources of decoherence. They also have fast switching times when compared to conventional superconducting qubits used by companies like Google and IBM.

Even with these progressions, the researchers are still unsure whether or not they can produce topological qubits due to a lack of suitable material basis. This means experts cannot experimentally generate the special quasiparticles needed. These quasiparticles, or Majorana states, have only been able to be demonstrated in theory. 

With that said, these hybrid qubits are opening up brand new possibilities, and they could lead to the creation of new materials.

Alex McFarland is a tech writer who covers the latest developments in artificial intelligence. He has worked with AI startups and publications across the globe.