Researchers from MIT and elsewhere have recorded, for the first time, the "temporal coherence" of a graphene qubit—meaning how long it can maintain a special state that allows it to represent two logical states simultaneously. The demonstration, which used a new kind of graphene-based qubit, represents a critical step forward for practical quantum computing, the researchers say.
Superconducting quantum bits (simply, qubits) are artificial atoms that use various methods to produce bits of quantum information, the fundamental component of quantum computers. Similar to traditional binary circuits in computers, qubits can maintain one of two states corresponding to the classic binary bits, a 0 or 1. But these qubits can also be a superposition of both states simultaneously, which could allow quantum computers to solve complex problems that are practically impossible for traditional computers.
The amount of time that these qubits stay in this superposition state is referred to as their "coherence time." The longer the coherence time, the greater the ability for the qubit to compute complex problems.
Recently, researchers have been incorporating graphene-based materials into superconducting quantum computing devices, which promise faster, more efficient computing, among other perks. Until now, however, there's been no recorded coherence for these advanced qubits, so there's no knowing if they're feasible for practical quantum computing.
In a paper published today in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers demonstrate, for the first time, a coherent qubit made from graphene and exotic materials. These materials enable the qubit to change states through voltage, much like transistors in today's traditional computer chips—and unlike most other types of superconducting qubits. Moreover, the researchers put a number to that coherence, clocking it at 55 nanoseconds, before the qubit returns to its ground state.