(Quantum.UChicago) Researchers at the University of Notre Dame, in partnership with those at Northwestern University, are a step closer to understanding how superconductors can be improved for reliability in future quantum computers.
The team, led by by Morten Eskildsen, professor in the Department of Physics at Notre Dame and William Halperin from Northwestern University, achieved a new discovery in the field of topological superconductivity. The materials are at the forefront of research in quantum computing and quantum sensing.
The researchers used neutron-scattering experiments completed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and at the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France, to make the discovery, which had been predicted but had not been unambiguously detected before.

Topological properties of materials are being studied intensely because of their fundamental as well as practical importance, Eskildsen said. A classic example of topology is a Möbius strip that has only one surface and one edge. Here the “twist” is a robust feature that can only be undone by cutting the strip.
The research at Notre Dame was supported by a U.S. Department of Energy Basic Energy Science Grant. Research of the Northwestern team was supported by a U.S. Department of Energy Basic Energy Science Grant and the Northwestern-Fermilab Center for Applied Physics and Superconducting Technologies.