UNSW quantum team delivers again

James Riley
Editorial Director

A UNSW research team led by Michelle Simmons has published breakthrough research in the journey toward silicon-based quantum computing technology.

The research demonstrates a new compact sensor technology for reading information stored in the electrons of individual atoms. Such a sensor is critical to achieving scale and, ultimately, commercial potential for quantum computing initiatives.

“To monitor even one qubit, you have to build multiple connections and gates around individual atoms, where there is not a lot of room,” says Professor Simmons.

“What’s more, you need high-quality qubits in close proximity so they can talk to each other – which is only achievable if you’ve got as little gate infrastructure around them as possible.”

The UNSW team led by Australian of the Year Professor Simmons has taken a global lead in the drive toward silicon-based quantum computing.

This new research, with PhD student Prasanna Pakkiam as lead author, has been found to not only reduced the number of gates per qubit from four to two, it has also improved the quality of qubit readings.

“By integrating a superconducting circuit attached to the gate we now have the sensitivity to determine the quantum state of the qubit by measuring whether an electron moves between two neighbouring atoms,” says Pakkiam.

“And we’ve shown that we can do this real-time with just one measurement – single shot – without the need to repeat the experiment and average the outcomes.”

Simmons believes this research leads us to the point where sensitivity is good enough to perform any error correction needed to achieve a scalable quantum computer.

Simmons’ team works at the Australian Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T) at UNSW, which feeds its intellectual property into Silicon Quantum Computing Pty Ltd (SQC), Australia’s first quantum computing company.

SQC is an impressive alliance of government, corporate investment and university research, and has a current to build a silicon-based 10-qubit demonstration system by 2022.

The paper was published today in science journal Physical Review X.

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