The field of propagating quantum microwaves has started to receive considerable attention in the past few years. Motivated at first by the lack of an efficient microwave-to-optical
platform that could solve the issue of secure communication between remote superconducting chips, current efforts are starting to reach other areas, from quantum communications to sensing. Here, we attempt at giving a state-of-the-art view of the two, pointing at some of the technical and theoretical challenges we need to address, and while providing some novel ideas and directions for future research. Hence, the goal of this paper is to provide a bigger picture, and — we hope — to inspire new ideas in quantum communications and sensing: from open-air microwave quantum key distribution to direct detection of dark matter, we expect that the recent efforts and results in quantum microwaves will soon attract a wider audience, not only in the academic community, but also in an industrial environment.
Superconducting qubits are one of the most promising candidates to implement quantum computers. The superiority of superconducting quantum computers over any classical device in simulating
random but well-determined quantum circuits has already been shown in two independent experiments and important steps have been taken in quantum error correction. However, the currently wide-spread qubit designs do not yet provide high enough performance to enable practical applications or efficient scaling of logical qubits owing to one or several following issues: sensitivity to charge or flux noise leading to decoherence, too weak non-linearity preventing fast operations, undesirably dense excitation spectrum, or complicated design vulnerable to parasitic capacitance. Here, we introduce and demonstrate a superconducting-qubit type, the unimon, which combines the desired properties of high non-linearity, full insensitivity to dc charge noise, insensitivity to flux noise, and a simple structure consisting only of a single Josephson junction in a resonator. We measure the qubit frequency, ω01/(2π), and anharmonicity α over the full dc-flux range and observe, in agreement with our quantum models, that the qubit anharmonicity is greatly enhanced at the optimal operation point, yielding, for example, 99.9% and 99.8% fidelity for 13-ns single-qubit gates on two qubits with (ω01,α)=(4.49 GHz,434 MHz)×2π and (3.55 GHz,744 MHz)×2π, respectively. The energy relaxation time T1≲10 μs is stable for hours and seems to be limited by dielectric losses. Thus, future improvements of the design, materials, and gate time may promote the unimon to break the 99.99% fidelity target for efficient quantum error correction and possible quantum advantage with noisy systems.
Previous studies of photon-assisted tunneling through normal-metal-insulator-superconductor junctions have exhibited potential for providing a convenient tool to control the dissipation
of quantum-electric circuits in-situ. However, the current literature on such a quantum-circuit refrigerator (QCR) does not present a detailed description for the charge dynamics of the tunneling processes or the phase coherence of the open quantum system. Here we derive a master equation describing both quantum-electric and charge degrees of freedom, and discover that typical experimental parameters of low temperature and yet lower charging energy yield a separation of time scales for the charge and quantum dynamics. Consequently, the minor effect of the different charge states can be taken into account by averaging over the charge distribution. We also consider applying an ac voltage to the tunnel junction, which enables control of the decay rate of a superconducting qubit over four orders of magnitude by changing the drive amplitude; we find an order-of-magnitude drop in the qubit excitation in 40 ns and a residual reset infidelity below 10−4. Furthermore, for the normal island we consider the case of charging energy and single-particle level spacing large compared to the superconducting gap, i.e., a quantum dot. Although the decay rates arising from such a dot QCR appear low for use in qubit reset, the device can provide effective negative damping (gain) to the coupled microwave resonator. The Fano factor of such a millikelvin microwave source may be smaller than unity, with the latter value being reached close to the maximum attainable power.
The increasing need for scaling up quantum computers operating in the microwave domain calls for advanced approaches for control electronics. To this end, integration of components
at cryogenic temperatures hosting also the quantum devices seems tempting. However, this comes with the limitations of ultra-low power dissipation accompanied by stringent signal-quality requirements to implement quantum-coherent operations. Here, we present a device and a technique to provide coherent continuous-wave microwave emission. We experimentally verify that its operation characteristics accurately follow our introduced theory based on a perturbative treatment of the capacitively shunted Josephson junction as a gain element. From phase noise measurements, we evaluate that the infidelity of typical quantum gate operations owing to this cryogenic source is less than 0.1% up to 10-ms evolution times, which is well below the infidelity caused by dephasing of the state-of-the-art superconducting qubits. Our device provides a coherent tone of 25 pW, corresponding to the total power needed in simultaneous control of thousands of qubits. Thus, together with future cryogenic amplitude and phase modulation techniques, our results may open pathways for scalable cryogenic control systems for quantum processors.
We implement a broadly tunable phase shifter for microwaves based on superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) and study it both experimentally and theoretically. At different
frequencies, a unit transmission coefficient, |S21|=1, can be theoretically achieved along a curve where the phase shift is controllable by magnetic flux. The fabricated device consists of three equidistant SQUIDs interrupting a transmission line. We model each SQUID embedded at different positions along the transmission line with two parameters, capacitance and inductance, the values of which we extract from the experiments. In our experiments, the tunability of the phase shift varies from from 0.07×π to 0.14×π radians along the full-transmission curve with the input frequency ranging from 6.00 to 6.28~GHz. The reported measurements are in good agreement with simulations, which is promising for future design work of phase shifters for different applications.
Superconducting coplanar-waveguide (CPW) resonators are one of the key devices in circuit quantum electrodynamics (cQED). Their performance can be limited by dielectric losses in the
substrate and in the material interfaces. Reliable modeling is required to aid in the design of low-loss CPW structures for cQED. We analyze the geometric dependence of the dielectric losses in CPW structures using finite-element modeling of the participation ratios of the lossy regions. In a practical scenario, uncertainties in the the dielectric constants and loss tangents of these regions introduce uncertainties in the theoretically predicted participation ratios. We present a method for combining loss simulations with measurements of two-level-system-limited quality factors and resonance frequencies of CPW resonators. Namely, we solve an inverse problem to find optimal model parameters producing the measured values. High quality factors are obtainable by properly designing the cross-sectional geometries of the CPW structures, but more accurate modeling and design methods for low-loss CPW resonators are called for major future improvements. Our nonlinear optimization methodology is a step in this direction.
We report on fast tunability of an electromagnetic environment coupled to a superconducting coplanar waveguide resonator. Namely, we utilize a recently-developed quantum-circuit refrigerator
(QCR) to experimentally demonstrate a dynamic tunability in the total damping rate of the resonator up to almost two orders of magnitude. Based on the theory it corresponds to a change in the internal damping rate by nearly four orders of magnitude. The control of the QCR is fully electrical, with the shortest implemented operation times in the range of 10 ns. This experiment constitutes a fast active reset of a superconducting quantum circuit. In the future, a similar scheme can potentially be used to initialize superconducting quantum bits.
We report a generic scheme to implement transmission-type quantum gates for propagating microwave photons, based on a sequence of lumped-element components on transmission lines. By
choosing three equidistant superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) as the components on a single transmission line, we experimentally implement a magnetic-flux-tunable phase shifter and demonstrate that it produces a broad range of phase shifts and full transmission within the experimental uncertainty. Together with previously demonstrated beam splitters, these phase shifters can be utilized to implement arbitrary single-qubit gates. Furthermore, we theoretically show that replacing the SQUIDs by superconducting qubits, the phase shifter can be made strongly nonlinear, thus introducing deterministic photon–photon interactions. These results critically complement the previous demonstrations of on-demand single-photon sources and detectors, and hence pave the way for an all-microwave quantum computer based on propagating photons.
We propose an efficient qubit initialization protocol based on a dissipative environment that can be dynamically adjusted. Here the qubit is coupled to a thermal bath through a tunable
harmonic oscillator. On-demand initialization is achieved by sweeping the oscillator rapidly into resonance with the qubit. This resonant coupling with the engineered environment induces fast relaxation to the ground state of the system, and a consecutive rapid sweep back to off resonance guarantees weak excess dissipation during quantum computations. We solve the corresponding quantum dynamics using a Markovian master equation for the reduced density operator of the qubit-bath system. This allows us to optimize the parameters and the initialization protocol for the qubit. Our analytical calculations show that the ground-state occupation of our system is well protected during the fast sweeps of the environmental coupling and, consequently, we obtain an estimate for the duration of our protocol by solving the transition rates between the low-energy eigenstates with the Jacobian diagonalization method. Our results suggest that the current experimental state of the art for the initialization speed of superconducting qubits at a given fidelity can be considerably improved.