Suppressing relaxation in superconducting qubits by quasiparticle pumping

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Science  23 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6319, pp. 1573-1577
DOI: 10.1126/science.aah5844

Extending qubit lifetime through a shaped environment

Qubits are the quantum two-level systems that encode and process information in quantum computing. Kept in isolation, qubits can be stable. In a practical setting, however, qubits must be addressed and interact with each other. Such an environment is typically viewed as a source of decoherence and has a detrimental effect on a qubit's ability to retain encoded information. Gustavsson et al. used a sequence of pulses as a source of “environment shaping” that could substantially increase the coherence time of a superconducting qubit.

Science, this issue p. 1573


Dynamical error suppression techniques are commonly used to improve coherence in quantum systems. They reduce dephasing errors by applying control pulses designed to reverse erroneous coherent evolution driven by environmental noise. However, such methods cannot correct for irreversible processes such as energy relaxation. We investigate a complementary, stochastic approach to reducing errors: Instead of deterministically reversing the unwanted qubit evolution, we use control pulses to shape the noise environment dynamically. In the context of superconducting qubits, we implement a pumping sequence to reduce the number of unpaired electrons (quasiparticles) in close proximity to the device. A 70% reduction in the quasiparticle density results in a threefold enhancement in qubit relaxation times and a comparable reduction in coherence variability.

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