Scientists find the missing photonic link to enable a quantum internet made entirely of silicon

Researchers at Simon Fraser University have made a decisive breakthrough in the development of quantum technology.

Their research, published in Nature today describes their observations of more than 150,000 silicon “T-center” photon-spin qubits, a milestone that opens up immediate opportunities to build massively scalable quantum computers and the quantum Internet that will connect them.

Quantum computers have enormous potential to deliver computing power far beyond the capabilities of today’s supercomputers, enabling advances in many other areas, including chemistry, materials science, medicine, and cybersecurity.

For this to become a reality, it is necessary to produce both stable and long-lasting qubits that provide processing power, as well as the communication technology that allows these qubits to link together in scale.

Previous research has shown that silicon can produce some of the most stable and durable qubits in the industry. Now, research published by Daniel Higginbottom, Alex Kurkjian, and their co-authors provides proof of principle that T-centers, a specific luminescent defect in silicon, can provide a “photonic connection” between qubits. This comes from SFU Silicon Quantum Technology Lab in SFU’s Department of Physics, led by Stephanie Simmons, Canada Research Chair in Silicon Quantum Technologies and Michael Thewalt, Professor Emeritus.

“This work is the first measurement of single isolated T-centers and in fact the first measurement of a single silicon spin to be performed with optical measurements only,” says Stephanie Simmons.

A transmitter like T-Center, which combines high-performance spin-qubits and optical photon generation, is ideal for creating scalable, distributed quantum computers because they can handle processing and communication together, instead of having to connect two different quantum technologies, one for processing and one for communication, ”says Simmons.

In addition, T-centers have the advantage that they emit light with the same wavelength that is used today by fiber-optic communication and telecommunication equipment in the big cities.

“With T-centers, you can build quantum processors that naturally communicate with other processors,” says Simmons. “When your silicon qubit can communicate by emitting photons (light) in the same band used in data centers and fiber networks, you get the same benefits of connecting the millions of qubits needed for quantum computing. »

The development of quantum technology using silicon provides opportunities to quickly scale quantum computers. The global semiconductor industry is already capable of manufacturing large-scale, low-cost silicon computer chips with a staggering degree of precision. This technology forms the backbone of modern computing and networking, from smartphones to the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

“By finding a way to create silicon quantum computer processors, you can leverage all the years of development, knowledge, and infrastructure used to make conventional computers, instead of creating a whole new industry for quantum manufacturing,” says Simmons. represents an almost insurmountable competitive advantage in the international quantum computer race. »

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Materials supplied by Simon Fraser University. Originally written by Erin Brown-John. Note: The content can be edited for style and length.

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