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Concept# Charge qubit

Summary

In quantum computing, a charge qubit (also known as Cooper-pair box) is a qubit whose basis states are charge states (i.e. states which represent the presence or absence of excess Cooper pairs in the island). In superconducting quantum computing, a charge qubit is formed by a tiny superconducting island coupled by a Josephson junction (or practically, superconducting tunnel junction) to a superconducting reservoir (see figure). The state of the qubit is determined by the number of Cooper pairs that have tunneled across the junction. In contrast with the charge state of an atomic or molecular ion, the charge states of such an "island" involve a macroscopic number of conduction electrons of the island. The quantum superposition of charge states can be achieved by tuning the gate voltage U that controls the chemical potential of the island. The charge qubit is typically read-out by electrostatically coupling the island to an extremely sensitive electrometer such as the radio-frequency single-electron transistor.
Typical T2 coherence times for a charge qubit are on the order of 1–2 μs. Recent work has shown T2 times approaching 100 μs using a type of charge qubit known as a transmon inside a three-dimensional superconducting cavity. Understanding the limits of T2 is an active area of research in the field of superconducting quantum computing.
Charge qubits are fabricated using techniques similar to those used for microelectronics. The devices are usually made on silicon or sapphire wafers using electron beam lithography (different from phase qubit, which uses photolithography) and metallic thin film evaporation processes. To create Josephson junctions, a technique known as shadow evaporation is normally used; this involves evaporating the source metal alternately at two angles through the lithography defined mask in the electron beam resist. This results in two overlapping layers of the superconducting metal, in between which a thin layer of insulator (normally aluminum oxide) is deposited.

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Superconducting quantum computing is a branch of solid state quantum computing that implements superconducting electronic circuits using superconducting qubits as artificial atoms, or quantum dots. For superconducting qubits, the two logic states are the ground state and the excited state, denoted respectively. Research in superconducting quantum computing is conducted by companies such as Google, IBM, IMEC, BBN Technologies, Rigetti, and Intel. Many recently developed QPUs (quantum processing units, or quantum chips) utilize superconducting architecture.

In quantum computing, more specifically in superconducting quantum computing, flux qubits (also known as persistent current qubits) are micrometer sized loops of superconducting metal that is interrupted by a number of Josephson junctions. These devices function as quantum bits. The flux qubit was first proposed by Terry P. Orlando et al. at MIT in 1999 and fabricated shortly thereafter. During fabrication, the Josephson junction parameters are engineered so that a persistent current will flow continuously when an external magnetic flux is applied.

In physics, the Josephson effect is a phenomenon that occurs when two superconductors are placed in proximity, with some barrier or restriction between them. It is an example of a macroscopic quantum phenomenon, where the effects of quantum mechanics are observable at ordinary, rather than atomic, scale. The Josephson effect has many practical applications because it exhibits a precise relationship between different physical measures, such as voltage and frequency, facilitating highly accurate measurements.

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