September 17, 2018
Electrons tend to avoid one another as they go about their business carrying current. But certain devices, cooled to near zero temperature, can coax these loner particles out of their shells. In extreme cases, electrons will interact in unusual ways, causing strange quantum entities to emerge. At the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), Jimmy Williams’ group is working to develop new circuitry that could host such exotic states. These states have a feature that may make them useful in future quantum computers: They appear to be inherently protected from the destructive but unavoidable imperfections found in fabricated circuits. As described recently in Physical Review Letters, Williams’ team has reconfigured one workhorse superconductor circuit—a Josephson junction—to include a material suspected of hosting quantum states with boosted immunity.