Aluminium is a versatile resource. We have often reported on the environmental aspects and advantages of secondary aluminium. The areas of application in architecture are also widely known. But aluminium has not exhausted its possibilities as a resource: the metal also contributes to an important development in quantum computers.
Qubits as the smallest computing unit in the quantum computer
Quantum computers are mainly used when the apparently infinite possibilities for solving a task exceed the computing power of conventional computers. The smallest computing units used here are so-called quantum bits, also known as qubits. These qubits make it possible to perform many computing steps in parallel. While classical computer computing units operate with the values “0” and “1”, qubits can also realise values in between.
In order for this process to run as optimally as possible, however, a switch must be made using materials that do not generate any electrical resistance at extremely low temperatures and thus conduct electricity without loss. This is where aluminium comes in as a resource.
Aluminium as a qubit
All qubits have a thin spot visible under the microscope, the so-called Josephson contact, where information is stored. Until now, this Josephson contact was created with two layers of aluminium separated by an oxide layer. Now researchers have succeeded in using a single layer of granular aluminium. A few “aluminium grains” form a three-dimensional body that is bound into an oxide matrix.
Thanks to this adaptation, the qubits of a quantum computer become even more sensitive to material defects. With a sensitivity of up to 100 times, material defects should be better detected and prevented in the long term. This leads to more reliable and more powerful quantum computers in the long term.