The ICN2 and Microsoft strengthen partnership in quantum computing research

The ICN2 Advanced Electron Nanoscopy Group, centre that has the CSIC among its trustees, strengthen its collaboration with the global network of Microsoft Quantum Labs. The company is focused on developing a scalable quantum computer. The ICN2 laboratories will provide atomic-scale measurements, analysis, and modelling of new materials.

Structure of Majorana nanowires.Interest on quantum computing has grown stronger. The race to build a quantum computer, with processing capacities and speeds dramatically higher than the current ones, has attracted growing global investments. The leading information technology and electronics companies are researching to develop these computers: from the mathematical algorithms needed to control and interpret quantum bits (or qubits - the processing units) to the engineering of devices at the nanoscale.

The ICN2, a center which has a CSIC among its trustees, is deepening its strategic research partnership with Microsoft. This company has established many Microsoft Quantum Labs around the globe; these are dedicated centres working on every aspect of developing a quantum computer, from foundational physics to the design of new software tools.

The Microsoft Quantum Materials Lab Copenhagen, in particular, has been working on designs for new materials that can be used to enable quantum devices. Specifically, one line of research involves the development of hybrid heterostructures that support the all-important Majorana fermions, as demonstrated at both Microsoft Quantum Lab Copenhagen and Microsoft Quantum Lab Delft.

Majorana fermions are particles of the fermion class that have the characteristic of being their own antiparticles. In condensed matter physics, Majorana bound states can appear under specific conditions: special quantum states that can be used as qubits. The research carried out by Microsoft --which the ICN2 will contribute to-- is based on the development of semiconductor – superconductor hybrid nanowires, at the edges of which Majorana bound states can generate.

In order to fully understand and exploit the potential of these new structures, they must first be analysed and understood at the atomic level. The ICN2 Advanced Electron Nanoscopy Group, led by ICREA Prof. Jordi Arbiol, will provide its expertise in electron microscopy and related spectroscopies to perform measurements and analysis of the complex structure and physical properties of these Majorana nanowires. By doing so, they will shed light on the structure of these and on how they respond at the atomic level to external stimuli.