Coherence is important for effective communication, even in quantum computing. A team from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has made progress in extending the coherence time for their qubits, which are the building blocks of quantum computing. They have achieved a coherence time of 0.1 milliseconds, which is nearly a thousand times better than the previous record. This longer coherence time allows a qubit to perform many thousands of operations.

Qubits are different from classical bits because they can exist in both states, 0 and 1. Maintaining this mixed state for a long coherence time is essential for the qubit to work properly. The team’s qubits, called charge qubits, encode quantum information in the electron’s charge states. They are attractive for their simplicity in fabrication and operation, as well as their compatibility with existing infrastructures for classical computers.

The team’s qubit is a single electron trapped on a solid-neon surface in a vacuum. The neon resists disturbance from the environment and guarantees a long coherence time. By improving the quality of the neon surface and reducing disruptive signals, the team achieved a coherence time of 0.1 milliseconds, a thousand-fold increase from the initial time.

The team also achieved a milestone by showing that two-electron qubits can couple to the same circuit, allowing information to be transferred between them. This is a crucial step towards two-qubit entanglement, which is important in quantum computing.

The team plans to further optimize their qubits and extend the coherence time even more. The research was funded by the DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences and other organizations. The results were published in Nature Physics.

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