Newly developed methods ensure that the loss of individual qubits does not disrupt a quantum computer. (Credit: Uni Innsbruck/Harald Ritsch)
Quantum information is fragile, which is why quantum computers must be able to correct errors. But what if whole qubits are lost? Researchers at the University of Innsbruck, in collaboration with RWTH Aachen University and University of Bologna, are now presenting a method in the journal Nature that allows quantum computers to keep going even if they lose some qubits along the way.
Qubits—the carriers of quantum information—are prone to errors induced by undesired environmental interactions. These errors accumulate during a quantum computation and correcting them is thus a key requirement for a reliable use of quantum computers.
It is by now well known that quantum computers can withstand a certain amount of computational errors, such as bit flip or phase flip errors. However, in addition to computational errors, qubits might get lost altogether. Depending on the type of quantum computer, this can be due to actual loss of particles, such as atoms or ions, or due to quantum particles transitioning for instance to unwanted energy states, so that they are no longer recognized as a qubit. When a qubit gets lost, the information in the remaining qubits becomes scrambled and unprotected, rendering this process a potentially fatal type of error.
Detect and correct loss in real time
A team of physicists led by Rainer Blatt from the Department of Experimental Physics at the University of Innsbruck, in collaboration with theoretical physicists from Germany and Italy, has now developed and implemented advanced techniques that allow their trapped-ion quantum computer to adapt in real-time to loss of qubits and to maintain protection of the fragile stored quantum information. “In our trapped-ion quantum computer, ions hosting the qubits can be trapped for very long times, even days”, says Innsbruck physicist Roman Stricker. “However, our ions are much more complex than a simplified description as a two-level qubit captures. This offers great potential and additional flexibility in controlling our quantum computer, but unfortunately it also provides a possibility for quantum information to leak out of the qubit space due to imperfect operations or radiative decay.” Using an approach developed by the Markus Müller’s theoretical quantum technology group at RWTH Aachen University and Forschungszentrum Jülich, in collaboration with Davide Vodola from the University of Bologna, the Innsbruck team has demonstrated that such leakage can be detected and corrected in real-time. Müller emphasizes that “combining quantum error correction with correction of qubit loss and leakage is a necessary next step towards large-scale and robust quantum computing.”
Widely applicable techniques
The researchers had to develop two key techniques to protect their quantum computer from the loss of qubits. The first challenge was to detect the loss of a qubit in the first place: “Measuring the qubit directly was not an option as this would destroy the quantum information that is stored in it”, explains Philipp Schindler from the University of Innsbruck. “We managed to overcome this problem by developing a technique where we used an additional ion to probe whether the qubit in question was still there or not, without disturbing it”, explains Martin Ringbauer. The second challenge was to adapt the rest of the computation in real-time in case the qubit was indeed lost. This adaptation is crucial to unscramble the quantum information after a loss and maintain protection of the remaining qubits. Thomas Monz, who lead the Innsbruck team, emphasizes that “all the building blocks developed in this work are readily applicable to other quantum computer architectures and other leading quantum error correction protocols.”
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Global Quantum Computing Market (2021 to 2025) - Featuring Atos, Alphabet and Honeywell International Among Others - ResearchAndMarkets.comon March 4, 2021 at 7:58 am
The "Global Quantum Computing Market 2021-2025" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering. The publisher has been monitoring the quantum computing market and it is poised to grow by ...
- The Decade of Quantum Computing Is Upon Us, IBM Exec Sayson March 3, 2021 at 12:09 pm
With business uses poised to accelerate, CIOs need to start tinkering with platforms, forming work groups and looking for problems the technology could address, says IBM Research’s Dario Gil.
- Photonic chip brings optical quantum computers a step closeron March 3, 2021 at 9:08 am
A programmable photonic circuit has been developed that can execute various quantum algorithms and is potentially highly scalable. This device could pave the way for large-scale quantum computers ...
- NIST/Xanadu Researchers Report Photonic Quantum Computing Advanceon March 3, 2021 at 6:31 am
Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Xanadu, a young Canada-based quantum computing company, have reported ...
- Heat-free optical switch would enable optical quantum computing chipson March 3, 2021 at 6:31 am
In a potential boost for quantum computing and communication, a European research collaboration reported a new method of controlling and manipulating single photons without generating heat. The ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Quantum computer error correction
- IBM Says Quantum Error Correcting Software Coming in 2023 – ‘Quantum Comes of Age’on March 4, 2021 at 2:58 pm
If quantum isn’t to be a technology “that’s always 10 years away,” then quantum error correction (QEC) – one of the high hurdles to quantum becoming a practical reality – must be tamed. This week at ...
- Quantum Computing Kills Encryptionon March 2, 2021 at 4:00 pm
a McEliece system hides your data by first wrapping it up with an error-correcting code (ECC) and then deliberately adding noise to it. Quantum computers, incidentally, turn out not to be very ...
- EarlyBirds Stresses Importance of Quantum Computing for Businesseson March 2, 2021 at 8:51 am
EarlyBirds, the company that runs a unique business to business (B2B) open ecosystem that allows innovators, early adopters, and subject matter experts (SMEs) to get together, wants to stress the ...
- How researchers are mapping the future of quantum computing, using the tech of todayon February 19, 2021 at 11:41 am
Imagine a future where new therapeutic drugs are designed far faster and at a fraction of the cost they are today, enabled by the rapidly developing field of quantum computing. The transformation ...
- Physicists Propose a 'Force Field' to Protect Sensitive Quantum Computers From Noiseon February 19, 2021 at 9:00 am
Creating a quantum computer requires an ability to stroke the edges of reality with the quietest of touches. Too much 'noise' and the delicate state of the system collapses, leaving you with a very ...