Electronic field allows more precise control of qubits

Scientists have developed a way to control qubits through a electronic field rather than a magnetic allowing a much more precise way to manipulate electrons in quantum computing.

Qubits, which are at the heart of quantum computing, are essentially individual electrons that are trapped within a semiconducting material.  They are then able to process data by being spun in one of two directions, and consequently encoding data with each direction representing either a 1 or 0, according to Nature.

Up until now scientists have only been able to assert control over qubits by using a magnetic field to control the spin of the electrons.  However, though it is possible to control electron spins on a large scale, such as that of a hospital MRI scan, it is considered to be very difficult to effectively generate magnetic fields on a nanoscale. 

This has in turn meant that it has been a stumbling block on the way to creating effective quantum computing as it is tricky to oscillate electrons at the necessary scale.

However, Leo Kouwenhoven and colleagues at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have begun developing an ingenious method that allows an electron to be controlled much more precisely with a an electric current.

This works by not attempting to directly influence the electron spin, but rather to affect the orbit of the electron around its atom’s nucleus in a method named spin-orbit interaction.

“The spin-orbit qubits combine the best of both worlds,” said Kouwenhoven. “They employ the advantages of both electronic control and information storage in the spin.”

As well as this the team also managed to in embedding qubits in nanowires made of a semiconducting material indium arsenide (InAs) which are only nanometres in diameter.

“These nanowires are being increasingly used as convenient building blocks in nanoelectronics.  Nanowires are an excellent platform for quantum information processing,” said Kouwenhoven.