With their ability to harness the strange powers of quantum mechanics, qubits are the basis for potentially world-changing technologies—like powerful new types of computers or ultra-precise sensors.

Qubits (short for quantum bits) are often made of the same semiconducting materials as our everyday electronics. But an interdisciplinary team of physicists and chemists at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University has developed a new method to create tailor-made qubits: by chemically synthesizing molecules that encode quantum information into their magnetic, or “spin,” states.

This new bottom-up approach could ultimately lead to quantum systems that have extraordinary flexibility and control, helping pave the way for next-generation quantum technology.

“This is a proof-of-concept of a powerful and scalable quantum technology,” said David Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering who led the research along with his colleague Danna Freedman, Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University. “We can harness the techniques of molecular design to create new atomic-scale systems for quantum information science. Bringing these two communities together will broaden interest and has the potential to enhance quantum sensing and computation.”

The results were published Nov. 12 in the journal Science.

Read more at UChicago News. 

Photo: Graduate student Berk Kovos, postdoctoral scholar Sam Bayliss, and graduate student Peter Mintun (left to right) work on qubit technology in the Awschalom lab in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. Photo by Pratiti Deb, University of Chicago