19 June 2024
Solid-state messy qubits: A new quantum frontier

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Solid-state qubits don’t need to be super dilute in an ultra-clean material to achieve long lifetimes. Instead, cram lots of rare-earth ions into a crystal, and some will form pairs that act as highly coherent qubits, shows paper in Nature Physics.

Solid-State Messy Qubits: A Paradigm Shift in Quantum Computing

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Published on: January 18, 2024 Description: "Embark on a quantum journey as we unveil the surprising success of dense solid-state qubits, redefining the landscape of ...
The Surprising Success of Dense Solid State Qubits.

Hello there, curious minds! Today, we’re diving into the fascinating world of quantum computing, specifically the latest findings on solid-state messy qubits. Get ready to challenge conventional wisdom and embrace the beauty of messiness in the pursuit of long-lived quantum information.

The Quest for Long-Lived Solid-State Messy Qubits

In the realm of quantum computing, qubits are the fundamental building blocks, analogous to classical bits in traditional computers. However, unlike their classical counterparts, qubits can exist in a superposition of states, enabling them to perform complex calculations exponentially faster than classical computers. The catch? Qubits are incredibly fragile and prone to losing their quantum information, a phenomenon known as decoherence.

The Conventional Approach: Cleanliness and Dilution

Traditionally, the approach to achieving long-lived qubits has been to isolate them in ultra-clean materials, minimizing interactions with their environment. This strategy, akin to keeping your room spotless to prevent clutter, has led to some success but also presents significant challenges. Finding suitable ultra-pure materials is not easy, and diluting qubits to the extreme makes scaling up quantum technologies challenging.

Challenging the Status Quo: Embracing Messiness

A groundbreaking study published in Nature Physics challenges the conventional wisdom of qubit design. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute, ETH Zurich, and EPFL have demonstrated that solid-state messy qubits with long lifetimes can thrive in a cluttered environment, turning the idea of cleanliness on its head.

The Secret: Solid-State Messy Qubit Pairs in a Sea of Ions

The researchers created solid-state messy qubits from the rare-earth metal terbium, embedded in crystals of yttrium lithium fluoride. Surprisingly, within this densely packed crystal, they discovered qubit gems with much longer coherences than expected. These qubit gems were not isolated individuals but pairs of terbium ions that formed strongly interacting systems.

Why Are These Solid-State Messy Qubit Pairs So Resilient?

The resilience of these solid-state messy qubit pairs lies in their unique properties. They operate at a different characteristic energy than the single terbium ions, making them effectively blind to the surrounding “junk” ions. This energy difference prevents energy exchange and shields the solid-state messy qubit pairs from decoherence caused by interactions with the single ions.

Optimizing the Messy Matrix

While the current solid-state messy qubit pairs exhibit impressive coherence times, the researchers believe there’s room for further optimization. By carefully selecting the host material and fine-tuning the magnetic field, they aim to enhance the protection of solid-state messy qubit pairs from environmental noise, potentially leading to even longer coherence times.

Conclusion: A New Pathway for Quantum Computing

The discovery of long-lived solid-state messy qubit pairs in a messy environment opens up new possibilities for quantum computing. This approach challenges the conventional wisdom of qubit design and offers a more practical pathway towards scalable quantum technologies. It’s a testament to the fact that sometimes, embracing messiness can lead to groundbreaking discoveries..


1. What are solid-state qubits? How do they differ from other types of qubits?

Solid-state qubits are quantum bits implemented in solid-state materials, such as semiconductors or crystals. They are distinct from other types of qubits, like trapped ions or superconducting circuits, due to their potential for long coherence times and scalability.

2. Why is it important to achieve long-lived qubits?

Long-lived qubits are crucial for quantum computing because they can maintain their quantum information for longer periods of time, enabling them to perform complex calculations without losing data. This is essential for building stable and reliable quantum computers.

3. What is the conventional approach to achieving long-lived qubits? What are its limitations?

The conventional approach involves isolating qubits in ultra-clean materials to minimize interactions with their environment. However, this approach is challenging to scale up and requires specialized materials.

4. What is the new approach to achieving long-lived qubits proposed by researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute, ETH Zurich, and EPFL?

The new approach involves creating qubit pairs in a messy environment, such as a crystal with multiple ions. These qubit pairs exhibit long coherence times due to their unique properties and energy differences.

5. How can this new approach impact the field of quantum computing?

The discovery of long-lived qubit pairs in a messy environment offers a more practical pathway towards scalable quantum technologies. It challenges the conventional wisdom of qubit design and opens up new possibilities for realizing stable and reliable quantum computers.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.nature.com 2. www.nature.com/physics 3. www.nature.com/articles/s41567-022-01853-4

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Quantum computing, Rare-earth ions, Terbium

Quantum computing
A quantum computer is a computer that takes advantage of quantum mechanical phenomena. On small scales, physical matter exhibits properties of both particles and waves, and quantum computing leverages this behavior, specifically quantum superposition and entanglement, using specialized hardware that supports the preparation and manipulation of quantum states. Classical physics...
Read more: Quantum computing

Rare-earth element
The rare-earth elements (REE), also called the rare-earth metals or rare earths or, in context, rare-earth oxides, and sometimes the lanthanides (although yttrium and scandium, which do not belong to this series, are usually included as rare earths), are a set of 17 nearly indistinguishable lustrous silvery-white soft heavy metals....
Read more: Rare-earth element

Terbium is a chemical element; it has the symbol Tb and atomic number 65. It is a silvery-white, rare earth metal that is malleable, and ductile. The ninth member of the lanthanide series, terbium is a fairly electropositive metal that reacts with water, evolving hydrogen gas. Terbium is never found...
Read more: Terbium

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