Changing Quantum Oscillations by Bending a Superconductor

Guest_Jim_* - October 17, 2012 11:31AM in Science & Technology

There are multiple possibilities for what future quantum computers will use for qubits, from ions to photons, and even atoms in superconductors. Recent research at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology has discovered a way to measure the individual quantum oscillations of atoms within a superconductor, which may prove very useful for superconducting qubits.

Within a superconductor, atoms will tunnel back and forth between positions of equal energy. These oscillations are normally very faint and hard to measure, but because the superconductor already has to be chilled to near absolute zero, other sources of noise have been significantly removed. These measurements have been made before, but what the KIT researchers added is the ability to distinguish between the oscillations of individual atoms. They also measured the changes to the oscillations when the superconductor was slightly bent. Even though the actual change in distance the atoms tunneled was minor, the tunneling frequency was noticeably affected.

This research could have greater applications than the study of quantum bits though as the method to measure the atomic oscillations could be used to analyze other materials as well. Potentially such study of materials currently used in electronics could lead to further miniaturization.