Science and Engineering

Cornell University

Darrell G. Schlom, J.C. Séamus Davis, Craig J. Fennie, Eun-Ah Kim, Kyle M. Shen
Ithaca, NY
June 2017


Researchers at Cornell University will develop an odd-parity topological superconductor (OPTSC) material that will lay the practical foundation for a stable and scalable quantum computing (QC) technology.  Quantum computers promise exponentially enhanced efficiency in performing calculations that are of great real-world importance, but are at present impossible.  In virtually all QC implementations to date, one of the states is an excited state that must, of necessity, decay spontaneously into its ground state.  This “decoherence” quickly destroys the quantum calculation and no mitigation exists for this fundamental effect.  An alternative form of QC has therefore been proposed: braiding pairs of ground-state non-abelian anyons in two dimensions.  Importantly, an anyon is not an excited state and so does not suffer decoherence, preserving quantum information ad infinitum. In principle, one route to create and use pairs of such anyons occurs in OPTSCs.  Despite intensive searches worldwide during the last decade for an OPTSC material, none have been identified definitively.  Recent theoretical work by the Cornell team demonstrates a new way to create an elusive superconducting state important for QC – splitting the quantum interactions and charge carriers that comprise superconductivity into separate material layers.  They predict that a bilayer heterostructure with a thin metal film in intimate contact with a quantum paramagnet will yield an OPTSC.  This project will leverage unique materials growth and characterization facilities at Cornell, including a new facility which combines Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE), Angle Resolved Photoemission Spectroscopy (ARPES), and Spectroscopic Imaging Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (SI-STM).

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