A research group at the University of Basel, working with the IBM Research Laboratory, has made a breakthrough in qubits scalability.
In classic computers, the solution to the scalability problem lay in silicon chips, which today include billions of “fin field-effect transistors” (FinFETs). These FinFETs are small enough for quantum applications; at very low temperatures near absolute zero (0 kelvin or -273.15 degrees Celsius), a single electron with a negative charge or a “hole” with a positive charge can act as a spin qubit. Spin qubits store quantum information in the two states spin-up (intrinsic angular momentum up) and spin-down (intrinsic angular momentum down).
The qubits developed by the team are based on FinFET architecture and use holes as spin qubits. In contrast with electron spin, hole spin in silicon nanostructures can be directly manipulated with fast electrical signals.
Another major obstacle to scalability is temperature; previous qubit systems typically had to operate at an extremely low range of about 0.1 kelvin. Controlling each qubit requires additional measuring lines to connect the control electronics at room temperature to the qubits in the cryostat. The number of these measuring lines is limited because each line produces heat. This inevitably creates a bottleneck in the wiring, which in turn sets a limit to scaling.
Circumventing this “wiring bottleneck” is one of the main goals of the research group, and requires measurement and control electronics to be built directly into the cooling unit.
The findings have been published in the journal Nature Electronics.