March 4, 2024

Finding and clearing quantum computing bugs in real time

Researchers have developed an innovative method for identifying errors in quantum computers, greatly improving the efficiency of error correction. This advance employs real-time error monitoring in quantum calculations, marking a significant shift in quantum computing research. Credit:

With a quick pulse of light, researchers can now find and erase errors in real time.

Researchers have developed a method that can reveal the location of errors in quantum computers, making them up to ten times easier to correct. This will significantly accelerate progress toward large-scale quantum computers capable of tackling the world’s most challenging computational problems, the researchers said.

Directed by Optical technique to correct errors in a quantum computer

Researchers led by Jeff Thompson of Princeton University have developed a technique to make it ten times easier to correct errors in a quantum computer. Credit: Frank Wojciechowski

Advances in quantum error correction

Thompson’s lab is working on a type of quantum computer based on neutral atoms. Inside the ultra-high vacuum chamber that defines the computer, qubits are stored in the spin of individual ytterbium atoms held in place by focused laser beams called optical tweezers. In this work, a team led by graduate student Shuo Ma used an array of 10 qubits to characterize the probability that errors would occur by first manipulating each qubit in isolation and then manipulating pairs of qubits together.

They found error rates close to the state-of-the-art for such a system: 0.1 percent per operation for single qubits and 2 percent per operation for pairs of qubits.

However, the main result of the study is not only the low error rates, but also a different way of characterizing them without destroying the qubits. By using a different set of energy levels within the Technique for correcting errors in a quantum computer

The inside of the ytterbium-based neutral atom quantum computing system developed in Thompson’s lab. Credit: Frank Wojciechowski

Important results and future implications

The researchers believe that with the new approach, about 98 percent of all errors should be detectable with optimized protocols. This could reduce the computational costs of implementing error correction by an order of magnitude or more.

Other groups have already begun to adapt this new error detection architecture. Researchers at Amazon Web Services and a separate group at Yale have independently shown how this new paradigm can also improve systems that use superconducting qubits.

“We need advances in many different areas to enable useful large-scale quantum computing. One of the challenges of systems engineering is that the advances made are not always constructive. They can take you in different directions,” Thompson said. “The nice thing about erasure conversion is that it can be used on many different qubits and computer architectures, so it can be implemented flexibly in combination with other developments.”

Reference: “High-fidelity gates and medium-circuit erasure conversion in an atomic qubit” by Shuo Ma, Genyue Liu, Pai Peng, Bichen Zhang, Sven Jandura, Jahan Claes, Alex P. Burgers, Guido Pupillo, Shruti Puri and Jeff D Thompson, October 11, 2023, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-06438-1

Other authors of the paper “High-fidelity gates with half-circuit erasure conversion in a metastable neutral atom qubit” include Shuo Ma, Genyue Liu, Pai Peng, Bichen Zhang, and Alex P. Burgers of Princeton; Sven Jandura in Strasbourg; and Jahan Claes at Yale. This work was supported in part by the Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research,

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