Storing quantum information as sound waves

A new method for efficiently translating electrical quantum states into sound.


Quantum computing needs a way to store the information it uses and processes. As a new field, it still works out where and how to store quantum information.

A new study shows a newly developed method for efficiently translating electrical quantum states into sound and vice versa. This kind of translation would make it possible to store quantum data created by upcoming quantum computers, which are most likely to be electrical circuits.

Developed by Caltech, the new method uses phonons and particles for sound. Because it’s relatively simple to create small devices that can store these mechanical waves, the experiment looks into using phonons to store quantum information.

Scientists developed a tiny device consisting of flexible plates that are vibrated by sound waves at extremely high frequencies. When given an electric charge, these plates can interact with electrical signals carrying quantum information. Similar to how you might shout into the room earlier in the story, this enables the information to be piped into the apparatus for storage and piped out for usage later.

Mohammad Mirhosseini, assistant professor of electrical engineering and applied physics, said, “Previous studies had investigated a special type of materials known as piezoelectrics as a means of converting mechanical energy to electrical energy in quantum applications.”

“These materials, however, tend to cause energy loss for electrical and sound waves, and loss is a big killer in the quantum world,” Mirhosseini says. In contrast, the new method Mirhosseini and his team developed is independent of the properties of specific materials, making it compatible with established quantum devices based on microwaves.”

Alkim Bozkurt, a graduate student in Mirhosseini’s group and the paper’s lead author, said, “Creating effective storage devices with small footprints has been another practical challenge for researchers working on quantum applications.”

“However, our method enables the storage of quantum information from electrical circuits for two orders of magnitude longer than other compact mechanical devices.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Bozkurt, A., Zhao, H., Joshi, C., et al. A quantum electromechanical interface for long-lived phonons. Nature Physics. (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41567-023-02080-w
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