Measurement of a superconducting qubit with a microwave photon counter

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Science  21 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6408, pp. 1239-1242
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat4625

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Counting the state of a qubit

Operation of a quantum computer will be reliant on the ability to correct errors. This will typically require the fast, high-fidelity quantum nondemolition measurement of a large number of qubits. Opremcak et al. describe a method that uses a photon counter to determine the state of a superconducting qubit. Being able to simply read out the qubit state as a photon number removes the need for bulky components and large experimental overhead that characterizes present approaches.

Science, this issue p. 1239


Fast, high-fidelity measurement is a key ingredient for quantum error correction. Conventional approaches to the measurement of superconducting qubits, involving linear amplification of a microwave probe tone followed by heterodyne detection at room temperature, do not scale well to large system sizes. We introduce an approach to measurement based on a microwave photon counter demonstrating raw single-shot measurement fidelity of 92%. Moreover, the intrinsic damping of the photon counter is used to extract the energy released by the measurement process, allowing repeated high-fidelity quantum nondemolition measurements. Our scheme provides access to the classical outcome of projective quantum measurement at the millikelvin stage and could form the basis for a scalable quantum-to-classical interface.

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