Posted in | News | Quantum Computing

Researcher Receives NSF Grant to Produce Advanced Quantum Materials

The ancient practice of woodblock printing serves as a source of inspiration for quantum computing for Assistant Professor Shuolong Yang and his team at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME).

Asst. Prof. Shuolong Yang is developing a new process to create quantum materials, inspired by the ancient art of woodblock printing. Above: Pre-patterned oxide substrate serves as a nanoscale ‘woodblock’ for printing topological quantum devices. Image Credit: Chi Ian Ip

Though scientists and engineers are currently attempting to resolve decoherence (a phenomenon where environmental interference, such as light and vibration, corrupts sensitive quantum information.), quantum computers could be able to execute sophisticated computations and run simulations that are not conceivable on traditional processors. 

Developing quantum computers from topological materials, which have distinct molecular and electronic structures that prevent decoherence, is one possible solution.

At the nanoscale, these materials are still challenging to create and work with. Yang and his team at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) want to demonstrate that their new method works to develop a better procedure that might eventually be scaled up and ultimately help usher in a new era of quantum manufacturing. Their work is supported by a recent National Science Foundation grant.

This project could bridge the gap between new quantum materials and using those materials in future quantum technology.

Shuolong Yang, Assistant Professor, Molecular Engineering, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago

Iron selenium tellurium is a topological superconductor that Yang is creating as it can convey quantum information while being error-free.

Yang and his colleagues suggest a brand-new method for creating it that is modeled after the art form of block printing, in which ink is placed on a carved woodblock’s surface and then transferred to paper to create a print.

This new quantum material will be “printed” using blocks Yang will make at the nanoscale. The structure required to create a quantum device was subsequently made by depositing ultrathin iron selenium tellurium onto an oxide substrate after a pattern had been carved into it by the researchers.

Since these structures may be produced in batches, this technology might result in a scalable manufacturing process.

The entire procedure takes place in a vacuum chamber since oxygen might alter the characteristics of these materials. To prevent oxidation, scientists put a capping layer on the structure before removing it from the chamber.

The research group intends to utilize their new procedure to create a quantum device known as a Josephson junction. They might be able to demonstrate the presence of exceptional qubits known as Majorana fermions with the aid of this device.

Numerous research teams from all around the world have claimed to have discovered these particles in quantum materials, but their existence has not been verified, and at least one significant discovery has been retracted.

Yang praises PME’s multidisciplinary approach for inspiring his team to link materials synthesis with quantum technologies and to approach research in a “totally disruptive way.”

Yang added, “There are still a lot of intriguing questions about these materials platforms. We hope to take this material research to the next phase that allows us to answer some of these physics questions and build meaningful quantum structures.


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