Phase slips occur across all Josephson junctions (JJs) at a rate that increases with the impedance of the junction. In superconducting qubits composed of JJ-array superinductors —such as fluxonium — phase slips in the array can lead to decoherence. In particular, phase-slip processes at the individual array junctions can coherently interfere, each with an Aharonov–Casher phase that depends on the offset charges of the array islands. These coherent quantum phase slips (CQPS) perturbatively modify the qubit frequency, and therefore charge noise on the array islands will lead to dephasing. By varying the impedance of the array junctions, we design a set of fluxonium qubits in which the expected phase-slip rate within the JJ-array changes by several orders of magnitude. We characterize the coherence times of these qubits and demonstrate that the scaling of CQPS-induced dephasing rates agrees with our theoretical model. Furthermore, we perform noise spectroscopy of two qubits in regimes dominated by either CQPS or flux noise. We find the noise power spectrum associated with CQPS dephasing appears to be featureless at low frequencies and not 1/f. Numerical simulations indicate this behavior is consistent with charge noise generated by charge-parity fluctuations within the array. Our findings broadly inform JJ-array-design tradeoffs, relevant for the numerous superconducting qubit designs employing JJ-array superinductors.

We propose and demonstrate an architecture for fluxonium-fluxonium two-qubit gates mediated by transmon couplers (FTF, for fluxonium-transmon-fluxonium). Relative to architectures thatexclusively rely on a direct coupling between fluxonium qubits, FTF enables stronger couplings for gates using non-computational states while simultaneously suppressing the static controlled-phase entangling rate (ZZ) down to kHz levels, all without requiring strict parameter matching. Here we implement FTF with a flux-tunable transmon coupler and demonstrate a microwave-activated controlled-Z (CZ) gate whose operation frequency can be tuned over a 2 GHz range, adding frequency allocation freedom for FTF’s in larger systems. Across this range, state-of-the-art CZ gate fidelities were observed over many bias points and reproduced across the two devices characterized in this work. After optimizing both the operation frequency and the gate duration, we achieved peak CZ fidelities in the 99.85-99.9\% range. Finally, we implemented model-free reinforcement learning of the pulse parameters to boost the mean gate fidelity up to 99.922±0.009%, averaged over roughly an hour between scheduled training runs. Beyond the microwave-activated CZ gate we present here, FTF can be applied to a variety of other fluxonium gate schemes to improve gate fidelities and passively reduce unwanted ZZ interactions.

The microscopic origin of 1/f magnetic flux noise in superconducting circuits has remained an open question for several decades despite extensive experimental and theoretical investigation.Recent progress in superconducting devices for quantum information has highlighted the need to mitigate sources of qubit decoherence, driving a renewed interest in understanding the underlying noise mechanism(s). Though a consensus has emerged attributing flux noise to surface spins, their identity and interaction mechanisms remain unclear, prompting further study. Here we apply weak in-plane magnetic fields to a capacitively-shunted flux qubit (where the Zeeman splitting of surface spins lies below the device temperature) and study the flux-noise-limited qubit dephasing, revealing previously unexplored trends that may shed light on the dynamics behind the emergent 1/f noise. Notably, we observe an enhancement (suppression) of the spin-echo (Ramsey) pure dephasing time in fields up to B=100 G. With direct noise spectroscopy, we further observe a transition from a 1/f to approximately Lorentzian frequency dependence below 10 Hz and a reduction of the noise above 1 MHz with increasing magnetic field. We suggest that these trends are qualitatively consistent with an increase of spin cluster sizes with magnetic field. These results should help to inform a complete microscopic theory of 1/f flux noise in superconducting circuits.

High-fidelity two-qubit gates at scale are a key requirement to realize the full promise of quantum computation and simulation. The advent and use of coupler elements to tunably controltwo-qubit interactions has improved operational fidelity in many-qubit systems by reducing parasitic coupling and frequency crowding issues. However, two-qubit gate errors still limit the capability of near-term quantum applications. In particular, the existing framework for tunable couplers based on the dispersive approximation does not fully incorporate three-body multi-level dynamics, which are essential for addressing coherent leakage to the coupler and parasitic longitudinal (ZZ) interactions during two-qubit gates. Here, we present a new systematic approach that goes beyond the dispersive approximation and outlines how to optimize the coupler-control and exploit the engineered level structure of the coupler. Using this approach, we experimentally demonstrate a CZ gate with 99.76 ± 0.10 % fidelity and a ZZ-free iSWAP gate with 99.86 ± 0.32 % fidelity, which are close to their T1 limits.

The dominant source of decoherence in contemporary frequency-tunable superconducting qubits is 1/f flux noise. To understand its origin and find ways to minimize its impact, we systematicallystudy flux noise amplitudes in more than 50 flux qubits with varied SQUID geometry parameters and compare our results to a microscopic model of magnetic spin defects located at the interfaces surrounding the SQUID loops. Our data are in agreement with an extension of the previously proposed model, based on numerical simulations of the current distribution in the investigated SQUIDs. Our results and detailed model provide a guide for minimizing the flux noise susceptibility in future circuits.