**(Phys.org)** Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in collaboration with their colleagues at the University of Hamburg in Germany, have imaged an exotic quantum particle—called a Majorana fermion—that can be used as a building block for future qubits and eventually the realization of quantum computers.

To form more robust and reliable qubits, researchers have turned to Majorana fermions—quantum particles that occur only in pairs. “We only need one Majorana fermion per qubit, and so we have to separate them from each other,” Dirk Morr, professor of physics at UIC and corresponding author on the paper, said. To achieve this separation, and to “image” a single Majorana fermion, it is necessary to create a “topological superconductor”.

“Being able to actually visualize these exotic quantum particles takes us another step closer to building robust qubits, and ultimately quantum computers,” Morr said. “The next step will be to figure out how we can quantum engineer these Majorana qubits on quantum chips and manipulate them to obtain an exponential increase in our computing power.