Superconducting Quantum Systems
One of the most promising routes to constructing a future quantum computer is via superconducting nanocircuits. The development of a quantum computer represents a shift in attitudes to quantum mechanics in that attempts are made to use our knowledge rather than simply observe and interpret. The purpose behind developing a quantum computer is to implement problem-solving algorithms that an ordinary (classical) computer could never do, but in making this step to quantum engineering we of course also hope to learn more about the foundations of quantum mechanics.
One form of quantum computer would make use of two level quantum systems (known as quantum bits = qubits), with quantum states that are carefully prepared, manipulated and measured. From the large number of possible quantum systems (ions, atoms, photons, etc), superconducting circuits represent a unique technological opportunity for quantum computing. This is because the quantum system can be tailored or engineered in a way that is not possible with the ‘natural’ systems. The technology could also be integrated directly with existing silicon technology.
Superconducting quantum systems are well coupled to the environment and this represents both a challenge for the engineering and an opportunity to explore new physics in this new regime. The coupling of a quantum system to the environment is intimately related to the question of the quantum-classical crossover and superconductors are well placed to explore this in a way that no other system can.
Using Niobium and Aluminium, two well known superconductors, the project will develop qubit and state measurement circuitry using the nanofabrication facilities at Royal Holloway. The devices will be tested and operated in newly built milliKelvin low temperature facilities at Royal Holloway. A formal collaboration agreement with Group Quantronique at the CEA Saclay, near Paris, is in place and funded opportunities exist to work there for short periods. The group also works closely with theorists and experimentalists in the UK and elsewhere. The project will challenge and satisfy the technical skills and intellect of a well-qualified physics graduate with interests in solid state physics, quantum physics and nanofabrication.
For further information contact Dr Phil Meeson.