Tantalum thin films sputtered on unheated silicon substrates are characterized with microwaves at around 10 GHz in a 10 mK environment. We show that the phase of tantalum with a body-centeredcubic lattice (α-Ta) can be grown selectively by depositing a niobium buffer layer prior to a tantalum film. The physical properties of the films, such as superconducting transition temperature and crystallinity, change markedly with the addition of the buffer layer. Coplanar waveguide resonators based on the composite film exhibit significantly enhanced internal quality factors compared with a film without the buffer layer. The internal quality factor approaches 2×107 at a large-photon-number limit. While the quality factor decreases at the single-photon level owing to two-level system (TLS) loss, we have identified the primary cause of TLS loss to be the amorphous silicon layer at the film-substrate interface, which originates from the substrate cleaning before the film deposition rather than the film itself. The temperature dependence of the internal quality factors shows a marked rise below 200 mK, suggesting the presence of TLS-TLS interactions. The present low-loss tantalum films can be deposited without substrate heating and thus have various potential applications in superconducting quantum electronics.

The number of superconducting qubits contained in a single quantum processor is increasing steadily. However, to realize a truly useful quantum computer, it is inevitable to increasethe number of qubits much further by distributing quantum information among distant processors using flying qubits. Here, we demonstrate a key element towards this goal, namely, a SWAP gate between the superconducting-atom and microwave-photon qubits. The working principle of this gate is the single-photon Raman interaction, which results from strong interference in one-dimensional optical systems and enables a high gate fidelity insensitively to the pulse shape of the photon qubit, by simply bouncing the photon qubit at a cavity attached to the atom qubit. We confirm the bidirectional quantum state transfer between the atom and photon qubits. The averaged fidelity of the photon-to-atom (atom-to-photon) state transfer reaches 0.829 (0.801), limited mainly by the energy relaxation time of the atom qubit. The present atom-photon gate, equipped with an in situ tunability of the gate type, would enable various applications in distributed quantum computation using superconducting qubits and microwave photons.

We have developed superconducting qubits based on NbN/AlN/NbN epitaxial Josephson junctions on Si substrates which promise to overcome the drawbacks of qubits based on Al/AlOx/Al junctions.The all-nitride qubits have great advantages such as chemical stability against oxidation (resulting in fewer two-level fluctuators), feasibility for epitaxial tunnel barriers (further reducing energy relaxation and dephasing), and a larger superconducting gap of ∼5.2 meV for NbN compared to ∼0.3 meV for Al (suppressing the excitation of quasiparticles). Replacing conventional MgO by a Si substrate with a TiN buffer layer for epitaxial growth of nitride junctions, we demonstrate a qubit energy relaxation time T1=16.3 μs and a spin-echo dephasing time T2=21.5 μs. These significant improvements in quantum coherence are explained by the reduced dielectric loss compared to previously reported NbN-based qubits with MgO substrates (T1≈T2≈0.5 μs). These results are an important step towards constructing a new platform for superconducting quantum hardware.

Superconductivity provides a canonical example of a quantum phase of matter. When superconducting islands are connected by Josephson junctions in a lattice, the low temperature stateof the system can map to the celebrated XY model and its associated universality classes. This has been used to experimentally implement realizations of Mott insulator and Berezinskii–Kosterlitz–Thouless (BKT) transitions to vortex dynamics analogous to those in type-II superconductors. When an external magnetic field is added, the effective spins of the XY model become frustrated, leading to the formation of topological defects (vortices). Here we observe the many-body dynamics of such an array, including frustration, via its coupling to a superconducting microwave cavity. We take the design of the transmon qubit, but replace the single junction between two antenna pads with the complete array. This allows us to probe the system at 10 mK with minimal self-heating by using weak coherent states at the single (microwave) photon level to probe the resonance frequency of the cavity. We observe signatures of ordered vortex lattice at rational flux fillings of the array.

Josephson parametric amplifiers (JPA) have become key devices in quantum science and technology with superconducting circuits. In particular, they can be utilized as quantum-limitedamplifiers or as a source of squeezed microwave fields. Here, we report on the detailed measurements of five flux-driven JPAs, three of them exhibiting a hysteretic dependence of the resonant frequency versus the applied magnetic flux. We model the measured characteristics by numerical simulations based on the two-dimensional potential landscape of the dc superconducting quantum interference devices (dc-SQUID), which provide the JPA nonlinearity, for a finite screening parameter βL>0 and demonstrate excellent agreement between the numerical results and the experimental data. Furthermore, we study the nondegenerate response of different JPAs and accurately describe the experimental results with our theory.

Ultrastrong coupling in circuit quantum electrodynamics systems not only provides a platform to study the quantum Rabi model, but it can also facilitate the implementation of quantumlogic operations via high-lying resonator states. In this regime, quantum manifolds with different excitation numbers are intrinsically connected via the counter-rotating interactions, which can result in multi-photon processes. Recent experiments have demonstrated ultrastrong coupling in superconducting qubits electromagnetically coupled to superconducting resonators. Here we report the experimental observation of multiphoton sideband transitions of a superconducting flux qubit coupled to a coplanar waveguide resonator in the ultrastrong coupling regime. With a coupling strength reaching about 10% of the fundamental frequency of the resonator, we obtain clear signatures of higher-order red-sideband transitions and the first-order blue-sideband transition in a transmission spectroscopic measurement. This study advances the understanding of driven ultrastrongly-coupled systems.

Single photon detection is a requisite technique in quantum-optics experiments in both the optical and the microwave domains. However, the energy of microwave quanta are four to fiveorders of magnitude less than their optical counterpart, making the efficient detection of single microwave photons extremely challenging. Here, we demonstrate the detection of a single microwave photon propagating through a waveguide. The detector is implemented with an „impedance-matched“ artificial Λ system comprising the dressed states of a driven superconducting qubit coupled to a microwave resonator. We attain a single-photon detection efficiency of 0.66±0.06 with a reset time of ∼400~ns. This detector can be exploited for various applications in quantum sensing, quantum communication and quantum information processing.

We propose a scheme for continuous detection of itinerant microwave photons in circuit quantum electrodynamics. In the proposed device, a superconducting qubit is coupled dispersivelyto two resonators: one is used to form an impedance-matched Λ system that deterministically captures incoming photons, and the other is used for continuous monitoring of the event. The present scheme enables efficient photon detection: for realistic system parameters, the detection efficiency reaches 0.9 with a bandwidth of about ten megahertz.

By properly driving a qubit-resonator system in the strong dispersive regime, we implement an „impedance-matched“ Λ system in the dressed states, where a resonant singlephoton deterministically induces a Raman transition and excites the qubit. Combining this effect and a fast dispersive readout of the qubit, we realize a detector of itinerant microwave photons. We theoretically analyze the single-photon response of the Λ system and evaluate its performance as a detector. We achieve a high detection efficiency close to unity without relying on precise temporal control of the input pulse shape and under a conservative estimate of the system parameters. The detector can also be reset quickly by applying microwave pulses, which allows a short dead time and a high repetition rate.