A new discovery focused on superconductors using exotic particles may just pave the way for greater stability and scalability of quantum computing, and may push the timetable for accessible quantum computers.
Researchers at the Quantum Materials Center (QMC) of the University of Maryland (UMD) Have been exploring A new kind of superconducting material that seems to be topological in nature-uranium telluride (abbreviated as UTe2). This has brought huge potential benefits to quantum computers, so the team made crystals of this material and began to study its properties.
A superconductor is a material that can carry current without resistance. This means that the signal will not lose its integrity and will not lose energy in the form of heat. Topological superconductors combine the fields of quantum physics and topology. This is a field of mathematics that explores how to manipulate the same material into different shapes simply by pushing and pulling—using only its inherent physical properties.
Think about the clay model-you can use the same clay ball, just push and pull it to make a plate or vase. This means that plates and vases are topologically grouped-the materials are the same, but they can be represented or manipulated through different shapes.
This is important because topological superconductors provide scientists with two different but complementary behaviors. First, the electrons in topological superconductors will dance around each other instead of simply flowing independently of each other-this is a naturally occurring connection between them. When this happens, they create a kind of vortex in the center of the dance, which makes it much more difficult to separate them than to float freely without this kind of dance synchronization. Secondly, scientists have identified a peculiar particle that seems to appear on the surface of these topological superconductors-Majorana mode, which behaves as if they are only half of an electron. These Majorana patterns have been shown to be deposited as a layer on top of topological superconductors, but they are not conductors themselves.
On the contrary, the thin Majorana film seems to act as a force field, bringing some sci-fi terms into the formula. They can resist interference from external forces, appear no matter how irregular the superconductor is, and insulate the superconductor, which usually transfers its superconducting properties to anything in contact with it. Steven Anlage, professor of physics at UMD and member of QMC, described this behavior as “this topologically protected surface state is a bit like a wrapper around a superconductor that you can’t get rid of.”
This means that uranium ditelluride and its emerging physical properties seem to be the enablers of stronger and more stable quantum connections, because encoding information on its emerging particles is naturally more resistant than current methods. If we know one thing about quantum states, it is that they don’t like any interference very much.
Scientists believe that these two phenomena are the key to achieving a more stable, more scalable quantum processor. So far, apart from the discovery of topological superconductors that can explain these behaviors, researchers have not found any other explanations. The next step in the process is to try to make thinner uranium telluride deposits that are easier and more reliable. Than the crystals they have been using.
If they succeed in this particular branch of research, they will have to come up with new equipment that can handle the natural radioactivity in the material (uranium after all), and design and manufacture actual equipment to apply these principles to work. This will take several years-but the interest and response of the quantum research community to these discoveries shows that they are vital to the future of quantum computing.