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The C-shunt Flux Qubit: A New Generation of Superconducting Flux Qubit


While quantum computation has the potential to revolutionize the scientific community, to date no architecture has been developed which offers the necessary combination of high coherence times and massive scalability. Superconducting flux qubits satisfy the second requirement well but to date useful devices are limited to coherence times of typically only a few &mus. In this dissertation we examine the possibilities of improving the coherence performance of the flux qubit to the levels required for fault-tolerant quantum computation. We find that coherence times for many devices are limited by photon-induced quasiparticles and mitigation of these quasiparticles increases coherence times by more than a factor of two. Beyond this, however, we find little improvement in flux qubit performance compared to prior results. Despite improved fabrication techniques and varied device designs we find flux qubit coherence times are still typically below 5 &mus. Furthermore, wide device-to-device variations are observed which prevent effective scaling of the flux qubit to quantum information circuits.

Based on the proposal by You, et al. we develop of a capacitively-shunted version of the flux qubit called the C-shunt flux qubit. With the addition of a capacitive shunt across the small junction of the flux qubit we are able to reduce the amplitude sensitivity to both charge and flux noise by more than a factor of three. The result is a predicted ten-fold enhancement in the coherence times compared to the unshunted flux qubit. At the same time we preserve much of the anharmonicity of the flux qubit resulting in a device with coherence times comparable to modern transmons but with a factor of four better anharmonicity and more flexible coupling configurations.

By using a high-quality MBE aluminum shunt process on an annealed sapphire substrate coupled with a more conventional electron-beam-evaporated aluminum Josephson junction process we fabricate hybrid C-shunt flux qubits. We also incorporate a new bridgeless junction technique which offers more robust and repeatable fabrication processing. This technique enables improved accuracy of the junction sizing, a trait which will become essential as we move to multi-qubit experiments. T1 and T2 times for these C-shunt devices reach in excess of 40 &mus at degeneracy, achieving the predicted ten-fold improvement based on the reduced noise sensitivity. At the same time we see decreased device-to-device variation with typical T1 times exceeding 20&ndash25 &mus at all bias points. Combined with the high anharmonicity and standard planar fabrication techniques these coherence times make the C-shunt flux qubit a competitive candidate for fault-tolerant quantum computation.

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