Detecting Majorana particles for next-gen quantum computing

10th September 2014
Nat Bowers

Researchers from the University of Surrey and the Ben-Gurion University in Israel have uncovered a new method to detect Majorana particles. Previous attempts to find the elusive Majorana particle have been promising without providing definitive and conclusive evidence of its existence.

Relying on the laws of quantum mechanics, quantum computing can simultaneously process vast amounts of information and calculations with far more power than current computers. However, development has been limited because researchers have struggled to find a reliable way to increase the power of these systems - measured in Q-Bits.

Currently the most powerful quantum computer in existence has a power of eight Q-Bits, however, researchers believe that once it is confirmed, the Majorana particle will enable functioning topological Q-Bits to be produced. This will break the barriers towards scaling up quantum computation to many Q-Bits. Quantum computing is one pillar of quantum technology, where the UK government last year announced funding of £270million for the development and application of this technology.

Now, the university researchers have potentially enabled reliable Q-Bits to be developed. The team proposed the use of photons (light particles) and super-conducting circuits to probe and measure semiconductor nanowires. It is thought that these particles exist at certain controlled conditions in semiconductor nanowires and, if so, they will be revealed through the identification of a specific pattern using microwave spectroscopy.

The new method has attracted the interest of leading experimental groups and it is hoped that this method will be trialled within the next year.

Lead-author, Dr Eran Ginossar, from the University of Surrey, comments: “We know what we are looking for, we just haven’t found it yet - it’s the ultimate physics treasure hunt! We are confident that the method we are proposing will bring us closer to unlocking the untapped potential of quantum computing in areas such as code breaking, complicated mathematical problem-solving and scientific simulation of advanced materials."

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