New silicon construction method could improve reliability & affordability of building quantum computers
(ZDNet) A team of researchers have developed a new silicon construction technique that could potentially improve the affordability and reliability of building quantum computers.
The new technique — jointly developed by researchers from Australia’s University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales (UNSW) and RMIT, and Germany’s Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and Leibniz Institute of Surface Engineering — involves precisely embedding single atoms one-by-one in silicon wafers.
“One atom colliding with a piece of silicon makes a very faint click, but we have invented very sensitive electronics used to detect the click, it’s much amplified and gives a loud signal, a loud and reliable signal,” University of Melbourne professor and lead author David Jamieson said.
“That allows us to be very confident of our method. We can say, ‘Oh, there was a click. An atom just arrived. Now we can move the cantilever to the next spot and wait for the next atom.'”
“We believe we ultimately could make large-scale machines based on single atom quantum bits by using our method and taking advantage of the manufacturing techniques that the semiconductor industry has perfected,” he said.
The researchers used equipment including sensitive x-ray detectors, an atomic force microscope that was originally developed for the Rosetta space mission, along with a computer model for the trajectory of ions implanted into silicon, to develop the technique.
According to the researchers, the technique, which has been published in an Advanced Materials paper, takes advantage of the precision of the atomic microscope, which has a sharp cantilever that “touches” the surface of a chip with a positioning accuracy of just half a nanometre, which is about the same space between atoms in a silicon crystal.