Non-destructive measurements in ytterbium qubits contribute to scalable neutral atom quantum computing.

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By non-destructively measuring ytterbium-171 qubits, the researchers achieved real-time control. credit: Quantum PRX (2023). DOI: 10.1103/PRXQuantum.4.030337

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By non-destructively measuring ytterbium-171 qubits, the researchers achieved real-time control. credit: Quantum PRX (2023). DOI: 10.1103/PRXQuantum.4.030337

Atoms of the metal ytterbium-171 may be the closest thing in nature to perfect qubits. A recent study shows how they can be used for repeated quantum measurements and qubit spins, which may help develop scalable quantum computing.

Physicists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a method to measure ytterbium-171 qubits that preserve them for future use. As the researchers report in the journal Quantum PRXachieving this “non-destructive measurement” allowed them to use the processor for the long, multi-step calculations that underlie many quantum algorithms.

“Ytterbium-171 has emerged as a very promising candidate for quantum computing over the past few years,” said William Hoy, lead author of the study. “And now that we have demonstrated non-destructive measurement and spin of the qubit, we have shown that arrays of ytterbium atoms are promising for certain classes of quantum computing operations.”

Among the many quantum computing platforms currently under investigation, arrays of neutral atoms such as ytterbium are one of the most promising. They scale as easily as large system sizes, and since they use natural atoms, there are fewer hardware and manufacturing concerns. However, certain types of atoms are more difficult to use because they have a complex surface structure.

“Quantum computing is accessible based on quantum qubit systems with two levels,” said Jacob Covey, professor of physics at the University of I. and project leader. However, for all their advantages, atoms can have dozens of accessible levels. Making sure you’re only working with two surfaces at once can be quite a challenge.

Ytterbium-171 has attracted attention in recent years because it has only two accessible quantum levels to cool down to its lowest state. Therefore, operations on the atoms are much less likely to knock them out of the desired two-level qubit state, making non-destructive measurements much easier.

“But, perhaps a little counterintuitively, these properties, which are great for quantum operations, come at the cost of a much more complex overall structure in the atom,” Covey says. “We and other groups working with ytterbium and other alkali-like atoms have had to redevelop many of the current standard techniques in atomic physics to handle its complications.”

The researchers reported that they achieved a non-destructive measurement of ytterbium-171 qubits with a success rate of 99%. They demonstrate the capabilities of their system by implementing a technique called real-time adaptive control, in which a classical computer is used to control ytterbium qubits based on measurement results.

“Algorithms based on qubits that are externally controlled by classical computers have gained attention in quantum information science,” Huie said. “The community has found that measuring and controlling qubits at intermediate stages of a computation can make large-scale quantum behavior much more efficient in some scenarios. So, looking to the future, our group is excited to use our ytterbium platform use to discover these newer developments.”

more information:
William Hoy et al., Repeated readout and real-time control of nuclear spin qubits in 171Yb atoms, Quantum PRX (2023). DOI: 10.1103/PRXQuantum.4.030337

Magazine information:
Quantum PRX

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