Quantum physicists succeed in controlling energy losses and shifts

Quantum physicists succeed in controlling energy losses and shifts
Artistic impression of a superconducting resonator coupled with its quantum-mechanical environment. Credit: Heikka Valja.

Quantum computers need to preserve quantum information for a long time to be able to crack important problems faster than a normal computer. Energy losses take the state of the qubit from one to zero, destroying stored quantum information at the same time. Consequently, scientists all over the globe have traditionally worked to remove all sources of energy loss—or dissipation—from these machines.

Dr. Mikko Mottonen from Aalto University and his research team have taken a different approach. "Years ago, we realized that quantum computers actually need dissipation to operate efficiently. The trick is to have it only when you need it," he explains.

In their paper to be published on 11 March 2019 in Nature Physics, scientists from Aalto University and the University of Oulu demonstrate that they can increase the dissipation rate by a factor of thousand in a high-quality superconducting resonator on demand—such resonators are used in prototype quantum computers.

"The quantum-circuit refrigerator that we recently invented was the key to achieve this tunability of dissipation. Future quantum computers need a similar feature to be able to control on demand," says Mottonen.

According to the first author of the work, Dr. Matti Silveri, the results of most scientific significance were unexpected.

"To our great surprise, we observed a shift in the resonator frequency when we turned on the dissipation. Seventy years ago, Nobel winner Willis Lamb made his first observations of small energy shifts in . We see the same physics, but for the first time in engineered quantum systems," explains Silveri.

Lamb's observations were revolutionary at that time. They showed that modeling the hydrogen atom alone was not enough; electromagnetic fields must be accounted for, even though their energy is zero. This phenomenon is now confirmed also in quantum circuits.

The key to the new observation was that dissipation, and hence the energy shift, can be turned on and off. Control of such energy shifts is critical for the implementation of quantum logic and quantum computers.

"Building a large-scale computer is one of the greatest challenges of our society," Mottonen says.


Explore further

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More information: Broadband Lamb shift in an engineered quantum system, Nature Physics (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41567-019-0449-0 , https://www.nature.com/articles/s41567-019-0449-0
Journal information: Nature Physics

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Citation: Quantum physicists succeed in controlling energy losses and shifts (2019, March 11) retrieved 22 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-quantum-physicists-energy-losses-shifts.html
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Mar 11, 2019
Seems like the right place to ask: when a molecule absorbs heat and then emits it, does it emit at the same frequency or does the absorption change the frequency of the emitted heat?

Mar 11, 2019
It depends.

Assuming you're talking about infrared photons and vibrational energy of molecules, sometimes it re-emits the same frequency in a single photon; sometimes it emits multiple photons that add up to the same energy; sometimes it dissipates some of the energy in a collision and emits that much less (if it can- depends on the energy differences in the orbitals).

On the other hand, if you're talking about absorbing kinetic energy only, without a vibrational component, then the question doesn't make any sense because kinetic energy is not equal to vibrational energy that can emit photons.

So the first question is, how does the molecule absorb the heat? Or, to put it another way, what kind of "heat" are you talking about?

Mar 11, 2019
Well I didn't want to poison the well with specifics. I'm talking about the interaction of infrared energy and CO2. The gas absorbs heat within specific frequency bands, forgive my lack of technical precision, and I wonder if the heat is re-emitted at the same frequency as before, or if the transaction dissipates some energy and it emits then at a lower frequency?

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