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Natural Radiation Can Interfere With Quantum Computers

A superconducting dark matter detector.

Natural radiation may interfere with both superconducting dark matter detectors (seen here) and superconducting qubits.

Credit: Timothy Holland/PNNL

A multidisciplinary research team at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that low-level ionizing radiation in the environment can degrade the performance of superconducting quantum bits, or qubits.

The researchers found natural radiation in the form of X-rays, beta rays, cosmic rays, and gamma rays can penetrate a superconducting qubit and interfere with quantum coherence.

Said PNNL's Brent VanDevender, "Without mitigation, radiation will limit the coherence time of superconducting qubits to a few milliseconds, which is insufficient for practical quantum computing."

The researchers suggest materials that emit radiation should not be used to construct quantum computers, and experimental quantum computers should be shielded from natural radiation in the atmosphere.

From Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
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Abstracts Copyright © 2020 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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