Berkeley Lab

Quantum Information Science

Achieving the immense promise of quantum information science requires new developments at every level, down to the the physical implementation of the quantum bits (qubits). Technologies and competencies that ATAP has developed on behalf of accelerator physics and fusion energy are helping to advance the burgeoning field of quantum computing and networking in a variety of ways.

Illustration of ion beam treatment of diamond to form qubits

Ion beams can create chains of closely coupled quantum bits (qubits) based on nitrogen-vacancy “color centers” in diamond for use in quantum computing hardware. (Credit: Susan Brand/Berkeley Lab).

Creating Qubits with Ion Beams

Creating large numbers of high-quality quantum bits (qubits), in close enough proximity for coupling to each other, is one of the great challenges of quantum computing. Our Fusion Sciences & Ion Beam Technology Program leads an international collaboration that is using ion-beam techniques to create qubits. In the photo at left, the honeycomb pattern shows the difference between areas exposed to the beam (darker) and masked-off areas.

Researchers worldwide have sought to make quantum materials by artificially inducing color centers in diamond. This is the first time that direct formation of color-center qubits along strings has been observed. Results indicate it should be possible to create 10,000 coupled qubits over a distance of about the width of a human hair, an unrivaled number and density of qubits.

Leveraging Accelerator Controls Expertise for Quantum Computing

Quantum information processors require expensive electronic controls that can manipulate qubits with precision. However, it is both a theoretical and experimental challenge to develop the control hardware that maximizes quantum computers’ performance.

Gang Huang (l.) and Yilun Xu in front of QuBIC installation

Gang Huang (l.) and Yilun Xu led the “QubiC” design effort that leverages particle accelerator R&D at Berkeley Lab for quantum computing. (Credit: Christian Jünger/Berkeley Lab)

Our Berkeley Accelerator Controls and Instrumentation Program participates in the Laboratory’s Advanced Quantum Testbed initiative with innovative open-source instrumentation for controlling quantum processors. The technology has been named a finalist in the 2022 R&D 100 Awards.

Another of their recent efforts successfully demonstrated the feasibility of low-cost and high-performance radio frequency modules for qubit controls at room temperature. Their tests proved that using modular design methods reduces the cost and size of traditional RF control systems while still delivering superior or comparable performance levels to those commercially available.

Fusion for Quantum, Quantum for Fusion

cover of Fusion Sciences QIS Roundtable report

Mutual benefits

Fusion and plasma sciences and the emerging field of quantum computing and communications could have a variety of mutual benefits, according to the report of the Fusion Energy Sciences Roundtable on Quantum Information Sciences (QIS).

The Roundtable, chaired by ATAP’s Thomas Schenkel and Bill Dorland of the University of Maryland, outlines three priority research opportunities in each of two broad categories: “Quantum for Fusion” and “Fusion for Quantum.” A wide variety of other sciences could also benefit.

QIS Encompasses Networking As Well as Processing

Cover of Quantum Internet Blueprint Workshop report

Charting a course

. Berkeley Lab and UC-Berkeley will be home to a cutting-edge quantum network testbed, thanks to a five-year, $12.5 million funding award from the DOE. The goal is to build a distributed quantum network between Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley that will help realize the DOE’s vision of establishing a nationwide quantum Internet and support the U.S. National Quantum Initiative. ATAP’s Thomas Schenkel is a co-investigator on the project.

Schenkel had also served as co-organizer, Berkeley Lab point of contact, and co-chair of the quantum networking control hardware breakout session of the DOE Office of Science’s inaugural Quantum Internet Blueprint Workshop. Its report is available.

To Learn More…

Schenkel explains the basics of quantum computing in the Berkeley Lab Video Glossary series.

Point of contact for QIS topics in ATAP

Thomas Schenkel,