For decades, computers have become exponentially more powerful, so much so that today’s mobile phones are millions of times more powerful that the room-sized multi-million-dollar computer systems that guided man to the moon 50 years ago. But soon the rapid advances of computers, often described by Moore’s law, is coming to halt, thus prompting us to look into new computational technologies.
The invention of the silicon transistor in the mid 20th century allowed us to build the first modern computers and the miniaturisation of these transistors have powered Moore’s law ever since. Now, a few decades later, computers have become an irreplaceable part of society, enabling us to do things that before were unimaginable. Yet, there still remain a large number of problems that would take too long or simply be impossible to solve with modern computers. These problems include certain optimisation problems, simulating new energy materials that could cut carbon emissions, and vastly improving the drug discovery process.
It turns out, however, that hard problems such as these can in fact be solved if we can build a computer that draws upon the features of quantum physics. While the advantages of such a quantum computer have been theoretical proven, it has so far only been possible to build small, proof-of-principle quantum computers due to issues associated with the materials and complexity of the computer chips. In my research, I investigate how the quantum computer chips can be made with a simpler device structure and fabricated using materials, namely silicon, and techniques that are standard to today’s computer manufacturing industry. As a result, these silicon-based quantum chips are expected to be particularly scalable and due to the material properties of silicon, the chips may also be less prone to errors than the leading alternative quantum computer chips that are based on superconducting circuits. Through my studies of devices such as is illustrated below, I aim to show that quantum information can indeed be both read and written – two key requirements for building a quantum computer – in this platform.
NanoDTC Student, c2017