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Scaling Quantum Computers with Long Chains of Trapped Ions

April 7, 2021 - 2:00pm
Laird Egan

Dissertation Committee Chair: Prof. Christopher Monroe


Prof. Norbert Linke

Prof. Alicia Kollár

Prof. Vladimir Manucharyan

Prof. Christopher Jarzynski


Quantum computers promise to solve models of important physical processes, optimize complex cost functions, and challenge cryptography in ways that are intractable using current computers. In order to achieve these promises, quantum computers must both increase in size and decrease error rates.

To increase the system size, we report on the design, construction, and operation of an integrated trapped ion quantum computer consisting of a chain of 15 171Yb+ ions with all-to-all connectivity and high-fidelity gate operations. In the process, we identify a physical mechanism that adversely affects gate fidelity in long ion chains. Residual heating of the ions from noisy electric fields creates decoherence due to the weak confinement of the ions transverse to a focused addressing laser. We demonstrate this effect in chains of up to 25 ions and present a model that accurately describes the observed decoherence. To mitigate this noise source, we first propose a new sympathetic cooling scheme to periodically re-cool the ions throughout a quantum circuit, and then demonstrate its capability in a proof-of-concept experiment.

One path to suppress error rates in quantum computers is through quantum error correction schemes that combine multiple physical qubits into logical qubits that robustly store information within an entangled state.  These extra degrees of freedom enable the detection and correction of errors. Fault-tolerant circuits contain the spread of errors while operating the logical qubit and are essential for realizing error suppression in practice. We demonstrate fault-tolerant preparation, measurement, rotation, and stabilizer measurement of a distance-3 Bacon-Shor logical qubit in our quantum computer. The result is an encoded logical qubit with error rates lower than the error of the entangling operations required to operate it.