Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel have developed a new device for controlling and measuring qubits inside of a cooler environment; the new device can be manipulated at lower frequency, without the need for microwave lines, thus reducing cost and complexity.

Before quantum information sciences and quantum computing can revolutionize tasks ranging from chemistry and pharmaceutical design to sensing and decryption, scientists need a better way to manipulate the critical elements of a quantum computer – known as quantum bits, or qubits – and their control components.

Currently, this process must take place outside of the low-temperature environment that superconducting quantum computers need, meaning every control and readout component must run microwave signals out of and back into a refrigerator. That can add time, cost and complexity to an already complicated operation.

All of this can be done inside of a dilution refrigerator that is 20 thousandths of a degree above absolute zero, where traditional ways of doing this aren’t possible. “It’s an entirely new approach to device control that will be an important piece of scaling quantum computer systems to the larger sizes needed for more complex applications,” Shrekenhamer said.

The research also represents a jumping-off point for designing new quantum information technology devices.