02 October 2018

Igor Abrikosov, professor of theoretical physics at LiU, has been awarded SEK 33 million for the coming five years from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation to show, together with colleagues, how it is possible to use the smallest components of quantum mechanics, known as qubits, at room temperature.

Professors Igor Abrikosov and Tien Son Nguyen Professors Igor Abrikosov and Tien Son Nguyen Charlotte Perhammar

Semiconductor components that use quantum effects are already available as diodes, transistors and lasers that have become important parts of modern communications technology in recent years. However, it has only been possible to produce the basic unit of quantum information processing, the qubit, at very low temperatures, in superconducting materials, for example.

“We need reliable solid materials that function as quantum bits, qubits, if we are going to be able to work at room temperature. We know that some materials, such as diamond, have quantum spins in defects in the material that have exactly the right properties for a qubit”, says Igor Abrikosov.
Professor Igor AbrikosovIgor Abrikosov Photo credit Charlotte Perhammar
He and his group have used the computing power available from supercomputers for calculations and simulations that demonstrate that quantum spin in defects in other solid materials can have similar properties.

“We plan to study substances with large bandgaps, both silicon carbide and some nitrides, such as aluminium nitride and gallium nitride. We are confident of finding new candidates”, he says.

From theory to application

Igor Abrikosov is responsible the theoretical calculations, while LiU researchers Docent Vanya Darakchieva, Professor Tien Son Nguyen and Visiting Professor Mathias Schubert are responsible for the experimental work. Professor Mohamed Bourennane at Stockholm University in an expert in developing electronic components.

“We are proud and delighted to receive a grant for the project. Our strength is that we cover the complete process, from the theoretical calculations in supercomputers to confirming the results by experiment, and then on to producing components such as a PIN diode”, says Igor Abrikosov.

It is hoped that the research will form the foundation for a technical revolution that gives, for example, new types of sensor for medical use and secure quantum communication.

SEK 60 million for LiU research

In this round the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has awarded a total of SEK 640 million to 22 research projects within medicine, the natural sciences and technology, all of them believed to have the possibility to lead to scientific breakthroughs. Projects in which LiU researchers are principal applicant have received more than SEK 60 million. In addition to Igor Abrikosov, Professor Magnus Berggren and a group of researchers around him have received more than SEK 27 million to develop a new fuel from water.

Translation George Farrants


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