Quantum Bits from Chip Defects

University of Chicago scientists discover a surprisingly simple technique that could lead to cost savings in quantum computers

Researchers at the University of Chicago have developed a process that could lead to the mass production of quantum bits. The technique invovles modifying off-the-shelf silicon carbide wafers--the same chips used in building conventional computers. According to the press release, “The recipe was surprisingly simple: Buy a commercially available wafer of silicon carbide (a temperature-robust semiconductor used in electric vehicles, LED lights, solar cells, and 5G gear) and shoot an electron beam at it. The beam creates a deficiency in the wafer which behaves, essentially, as a single electron spin that can be manipulated electrically, magnetically, or optically.”
The paper draws on previous work by scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who discovered that small defects in a silicon carbide chip could be used to isolate individual qubits.
University of Chicago molecular engineering professor David Awschalom adds, “It’s ironic after 50 years or so of trying to clean up semiconductors to make high-quality electronics, our plan is to put the defects back in—and use them to make a trapped atom in a semiconductor.”