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Scientists Track Quantum Errors in Real Time: Step Toward Age of Quantum Computing

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Artist's representation of a qubit.

Yale University researchers have developed a method of tracking quantum errors in real time.

Credit: Shutterstock

Yale University researchers have brought functional quantum computing another step forward by developing a method for real-time tracking of quantum errors.

Yale professor Rob Schoelkopf says correcting errors will constitute 99 percent of quantum computing, and demonstrating workable correction "is the biggest remaining challenge for building a quantum computer."

Schoelkopf and his team used a stable reporter atom, or ancilla, to detect quantum errors as they occured and report them to a computer without destroying a qubit's quantum state. Experimentation involved housing the ancilla and an unknown number of photons in a superconducting box cooled to almost absolute zero to minimize environmentally induced errors. Observation of escaping photons signaled a quantum error, and the ancilla only reported the photon parity in real time. A change in parity indicated the loss of one photon without showing whether the box had changed from six to five photons or from four to three photons.

"We could see errors coming up as they happened," says Yale student Andrei Petrenko.

Schoelkopf's team is now focused on developing a technique for fixing quantum errors, and Schoelkopf predicts the creation of a working quantum system will happen "sooner than we think."

From Yale News
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