New research hints at insane particles, useful in quantum computing

By measuring how heat is conducted in an exotic matter state, researchers show evidence for the presence of ‘non-Abelian anyons,’ particles that could store quantum information without need of error correction.

Quantum heat An image of the experimental setup used to produce evidence of strange quasi-particles called non-Abelian anyons.
Quantum heat An image of the experimental setup used to produce evidence of strange quasi-particles called non-Abelian anyons.

Scientists at the Brown University have measured Heat conduction in an exotic state of matter that focuses on the presence of weird particles that could be valuable in quantum computers. They have characterized how heat is conducted in a matter state known as a quantum Hall liquid, in which electrons are confined to two dimensions.

The discoveries propose the presence of non-Abelian anyons, quantum semi particles that hold a “memory” of their relative positions previously. Scholars have proposed that the capacity of these particles to hold data could be helpful in creating ultra-quick quantum computing systems that don’t require error correction, which is a noteworthy hindrance in the advancement of quantum computers.

Scientists were searching for thermal conductance, the flow of heat from a higher temperature to a lower temperature — in what’s known as a 5/2 quantum Hall liquid. Quantum Hall liquids are actually the term alludes to the conduct of electrons inside specific materials when the electrons end up restricting in two measurements in a solid magnetic field.

They found that the quantized heat conductance in this system is fractional. When the quantum thermal conductance is not an integer, it means that quasi-particles known as non-Abelian anyons are present in this system.

The research was led by an experimental group at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. Dmitri Feldman, a professor of physics at Brown, was part of the research group.

He said, ” A regular quantum computer — one without non-Abelian anyons — would require error correction. For one useful quantum bit of information, you need multiple additional quantum bits to correct errors that arise from random fluctuations in the system. That’s extremely demanding and a big problem in quantum computing.”

“But topological quantum computing — which requires the presence of non-Abelian anyons — is unique in that it doesn’t need error correction to make the quantum bits useful. That’s because in a non-Abelian system, you can produce states that are completely indistinguishable locally, but globally the states are completely different.”

“So you can have random perturbations of these local quantum numbers, but it won’t change the global quantum numbers, which means the information is safe.”

“Our work suggests that a particular entity known as a Majorana particle is at work in the particular system that we studied. And that suggests that a Majorana-based quantum computer is possible.”

The paper is published this week in the journal Nature.