- University College Cork says its new superconductor, Uranium Ditelluride, can provide a solution to one of the biggest challenges of quantum computing.
- This discovery required the world’s most powerful quantum microscope.
- Critical Quote: “However, since its discovery five years ago, there has been a significant amount of research on UTe2 with evidence to suggest that UTe2 is a superconductor that can be used as the basis of topological quantum computing.” — Joe Carroll, UCC doctoral researcher.
PRESS RELEASE — Scientists using one of the world’s most powerful quantum microscopes have made a discovery that could have significant ramifications for the future of computing.
Researchers at the Laboratory of the Macroscopic Quantum Matter Group at University College Cork (UCC) have discovered spatially modulated superconducting states in the new and unusual superconductor Uranium Ditelluride (UTe).2). This new superconductor could provide a solution to one of the biggest challenges of quantum computing.
their findings has been published in a prestigious journal Natural.
Lead author Joe Carroll, a PhD researcher working with UCC Prof. Quantum physicist Séamus Davis, explains the subject of the paper.
“Superconductors are extraordinary materials that have many strange and unusual properties. Most famously they let electricity flow unhindered. That is, if you pass a current through them, they don’t start to heat up, in fact, they don’t waste any energy despite carrying a very large current. They can do this because instead of individual electrons moving through the metal, we have pairs of electrons bonded together. These electron pairs together form a macroscopic quantum mechanical fluid.”
“What our team found is that some of the electron pairs form new crystal structures that are embedded in this background liquid. This type of state was first discovered by our group in 2016 and is now called Electron Pair Density Wave. These Coupled Density Waves are a new form of superconducting material whose properties we are still discovering.”
“What is very interesting for us and the wider community is the UTe2 seems to be a new type of superconductor. Physicists have been searching for such a material for nearly 40 years. The electron pair appears to have intrinsic angular momentum. If this is true, then what we have detected is the first Density Pair Waveform consisting of these exotic electron pairs.”
When asked about the practical implications of this work, Mr. Carroll explains;
“There are indications that UTe2 is a special type of superconductor that could have major ramifications for quantum computing.”
“Typically, classically, computers use bits to store and manipulate information. Quantum computers rely on quantum bits or qubits to do the same thing. The problem today’s quantum computers face is that each qubit has to be in a superposition with two different energies – just as a Schrödinger cat can be called ‘dead’ and ‘alive’. This quantum state is very easily destroyed by collapsing to the lowest energy state – ‘dead’ – thereby cutting off useful computations.
“This places a huge limit on the application of quantum computers. However, since its discovery five years ago, there has been a tremendous amount of research on UTe2 with evidence showing it to be a superconductor that can be used as the basis for topological quantum computing. In such materials, there is no limit to the lifetime of the qubit during computation which opens up many new avenues for more stable and useful quantum computers. In fact, Microsoft has invested billions of dollars into topological quantum computing so it’s already a well-established theoretical science.” he says.
“What the community is looking for are topologically relevant superconductors; Ute2 it seems so.”
“What we found then provided another piece of the UTe puzzle2. To make applications using materials like these, we must understand their basic superconducting properties. All modern science moves step by step. We are pleased to have contributed to an understanding of matter that can bring us closer to a much more practical quantum computer.”
Congratulating the research team at the Laboratory of Macroscopic Quantum Matter Group at University College Cork, Professor John F. Cryan, Vice President of Research and Innovation said:
“This important discovery will have significant consequences for the future of quantum computing. In the coming weeks, the University will launch UCC Futures – Future Quantum and Photonics and research led by Professor Seamus Davis and the Macroscopic Quantum Matter Group, using one of the world’s most powerful microscopes, will play a key role in this exciting endeavor. initiative.”