We present an exact solution for the linearized junction array modes of the superconducting qubit fluxonium in the absence of array disorder. This solution holds for arrays of any lengthand ground capacitance, and for both differential and grounded devices. Array mode energies are determined by roots of convex combinations of Chebyshev polynomials, and their spatial profiles are plane waves. We also provide a simple, approximate solution, which estimates array mode properties over a wide range of circuit parameters, and an accompanying Mathematica file that implements both the exact and approximate solutions.

Superconducting quantum processors are a compelling platform for analog quantum simulation due to the precision control, fast operation, and site-resolved readout inherent to the hardware.Arrays of coupled superconducting qubits natively emulate the dynamics of interacting particles according to the Bose-Hubbard model. However, many interesting condensed-matter phenomena emerge only in the presence of electromagnetic fields. Here, we emulate the dynamics of charged particles in an electromagnetic field using a superconducting quantum simulator. We realize a broadly adjustable synthetic magnetic vector potential by applying continuous modulation tones to all qubits. We verify that the synthetic vector potential obeys requisite properties of electromagnetism: a spatially-varying vector potential breaks time-reversal symmetry and generates a gauge-invariant synthetic magnetic field, and a temporally-varying vector potential produces a synthetic electric field. We demonstrate that the Hall effect–the transverse deflection of a charged particle propagating in an electromagnetic field–exists in the presence of the synthetic electromagnetic field.

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.

Quantum information processing at scale will require sufficiently stable and long-lived qubits, likely enabled by error-correction codes. Several recent superconducting-qubit experiments,however, reported observing intermittent spatiotemporally correlated errors that would be problematic for conventional codes, with ionizing radiation being a likely cause. Here, we directly measured the cosmic-ray contribution to spatiotemporally correlated qubit errors. We accomplished this by synchronously monitoring cosmic-ray detectors and qubit energy-relaxation dynamics of 10 transmon qubits distributed across a 5x5x0.35 mm3 silicon chip. Cosmic rays caused correlated errors at a rate of 1/(10 min), accounting for 17±1% of all such events. Our qubits responded to essentially all of the cosmic rays and their secondary particles incident on the chip, consistent with the independently measured arrival flux. Moreover, we observed that the landscape of the superconducting gap in proximity to the Josephson junctions dramatically impacts the qubit response to cosmic rays. Given the practical difficulties associated with shielding cosmic rays, our results indicate the importance of radiation hardening — for example, superconducting gap engineering — to the realization of robust quantum error correction.

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.

Single-charge tunneling is a decoherence mechanism affecting superconducting qubits, yet the origin of excess quasiparticle excitations (QPs) responsible for this tunneling in superconductingdevices is not fully understood. We measure the flux dependence of charge-parity (or simply, „parity“) switching in an offset-charge-sensitive transmon qubit to identify the contributions of photon-assisted parity switching and QP generation to the overall parity-switching rate. The parity-switching rate exhibits a qubit-state-dependent peak in the flux dependence, indicating a cold distribution of excess QPs which are predominantly trapped in the low-gap film of the device. Moreover, we find that the photon-assisted process contributes significantly to both parity switching and the generation of excess QPs by fitting to a model that self-consistently incorporates photon-assisted parity switching as well as inter-film QP dynamics.