Locals take 3D quantum step
Australian quantum scientists have used single atom technology to build 3D silicon quantum chips.
The project is another step towards the goal of developing a full-scale quantum computer.
A team at the Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T) have demonstrated that they can extend their atomic qubit fabrication technique to multiple layers of a silicon crystal – achieving a critical component of the 3D chip architecture that they introduced to the world in 2015.
The group is the first to demonstrate the feasibility of an architecture that uses atomic-scale qubits aligned to control lines – which are essentially very narrow wires – inside a 3D design.
But that is just the start. The team has been able to align the different layers in their 3D device with nanometre precision – and showed they could read out qubit states single shot, like within a single measurement, with very high fidelity.
“This 3D device architecture is a significant advancement for atomic qubits in silicon,” says CQC2T Professor Michelle Simmons.
“To be able to constantly correct for errors in quantum calculations – an important milestone in our field – you have to be able to control many qubits in parallel.
“The only way to do this is to use a 3D architecture, so in 2015 we developed and patented a vertical crisscross architecture. However, there were still a series of challenges related to the fabrication of this multi-layered device.
“With this result we have now shown that engineering our approach in 3D is possible in the way we envisioned it a few years ago.”
In their latest paper, the team has demonstrated how to build a second control plane or layer on top of the first layer of qubits.
“It’s a highly complicated process, but in very simple terms, we built the first plane, and then optimised a technique to grow the second layer without impacting the structures in first layer,” explains CQC2T researcher and co-author, Dr Joris Keizer.
“In the past, critics would say that that’s not possible because the surface of the second layer gets very rough, and you wouldn’t be able to use our precision technique anymore – however, in this paper, we have shown that we can do it, contrary to expectations.”
The team also demonstrated that they can then align these multiple layers with nanometre precision.
“If you write something on the first silicon layer and then put a silicon layer on top, you still need to identify your location to align components on both layers. We have shown a technique that can achieve alignment within under 5 nanometres, which is quite extraordinary,” Dr Keizer says.
Lastly, the researchers were able to measure the qubit output of the 3D device with a single shot – i.e. with one single, accurate measurement, rather than having to rely on averaging out millions of experiments.
“This will further help us scale up faster,” Dr Keizer explains.