Quantum computing promises to revolutionize the manners by which scientists
can process and manipulate data. The physical and material underpinnings for
quantum technologies are still being explored, and scientists continue to look
for new approaches by which data can be manipulated and exchanged at the
In the latest report, scientists at the U.S. Division of Energy’s
(DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have miniaturized chip-based superconducting
circuit that couples quantum influxes of magnetic spins called magnons to
photons of equivalent energy. Through the development of this “on
chip” approach that marries magnetism and superconductivity for manipulation
of quantum information, this crucial discovery could help to lay the foundation
for future headways in quantum computing.
“By pairing the right length of a resonator with the right energy of our magnons and photons, we are generally creating a sort of echo chamber for energy and quantum information,” said Valentine Novosad, Argonne materials scientist.
Magnons emerge in magnetically ordered systems as excitations within a magnetic material that cause an oscillation of the magnetization directions at each atom in the material — a phenomenon called a spin-wave. “You can consider it like having an array of compass needles that are all magnetically linked together,” said Argonne materials scientist Valentine Novosad, an author of the study. “If kick one in a particular direction, it will cause a wave that propagates through the rest.”
Similarly as photons of light can be considered as both waves and particles, so too can magnons. “The electromagnetic wave represented by a photon is equivalent to the spin-wave represented by a magnon — the two are analogs of each other,” said Argonne postdoctoral analyst Yi Li, another author of the study.
Since photons and magnons offer such a close relationship to each other, and both contain a magnetic field segment, the Argonne researchers looked for an approach to couple the two together. The magnons and photons “talk” to one another through a superconducting microwave cavity, which carries microwave photons with energy identical to the energy of magnons in the magnetic systems that could be paired to it.
Using a superconducting resonator with a coplanar geometry proved
effective on the grounds that it allowed the researchers to transmit a
microwave current with low loss. Moreover, it additionally enabled them to conveniently
define the recurrence of photons for coupling to the magnons.
“By pairing the right length of a resonator with the right energy of our magnons and photons, we are basically creating a sort of echo chamber for energy and quantum information,” Novosad said. “The excitations remain in the resonator for a much longer period of time, and with regards to doing quantum computing, those are the precious moments during which we can perform tasks.”
Since the dimensions of the resonator determine the recurrence of
the microwave photon, magnetic fields are required to tune the magnon to coordinate
“You can consider it like tuning a guitar or a violin,”
Novosad said. “The length of your string — for this situation, our
resonator of photons — is fixed. Independently, for the magnons, we can tune
the instrument by altering the applied magnetic field, which is similar to
changing the amount of strain on the string.”
Ultimately, Li stated, the combination of a superconducting and a
magnetic system takes into account precise coupling and decoupling of the
magnon and photon, presenting opportunities for manipulating quantum data.
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