Coherence properties of superconducting flux qubits

  • Kohärenzeigenschaften von supraleitenden Qubits

Spilla, Samuele; Splettstößer, Janine (Thesis advisor); Terhal, Barbara (Thesis advisor); Napoli, A. (Thesis advisor)

Aachen (2016)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Dissertation, RWTH Aachen, 2015. - Dissertation, Università degli Studi di Palermo, 2015


The research work discussed in this thesis deals with the study of superconducting Josephson qubits. Superconducting qubits are solid-state artificial atoms which are based on lithographically defined Josephson tunnel junctions properties. When sufficiently cooled, these superconducting devices exhibit quantized states of charge, flux or junction phase depending on their design parameters. This allows to observe coherent evolutions of their states. The results presented can be divided into two parts. In a first part we investigate operations of superconducting qubits based on the quantum coherence in superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUID). We explain experimental data which has been observed in a SQUID subjected to fast, large-amplitude modifications of its effective potential shape. The motivations for this work come from the fact that in the past few years there have been attempts to interpret the supposed quantum behavior of physical systems, such as Josephson devices, within a classical framework. Moreover, we analyze the possibility of generating GHZ states, namely maximally entangled states, in a quantum system made out of three Josephson qubits. In particular, we investigate the possible limitations of the GHZ state generation due to coupling to bosonic baths. In the second part of the thesis we address a particular cause of decoherence of flux qubits which has been disregarded until now: thermal gradients, which can arise due to accidental non equilibrium quasiparticle distributions. The reason for these detrimental effects is that heat currents flowing through Josephson tunnel junctions in response to a temperature gradient are periodic functions of the phase difference between the electrodes. The phase dependence of the heat current comes from Andreev reflection, namely an interplay between the quasiparticles which carry heat and the superconducting condensate which is sensitive to the superconducting phase difference. Generally speaking, the flux qubit states are characterized by different values of the phase difference through their Josephson junctions. Consequently, the phase-dependent thermal current through a device subject a temperature gradient is related to the phase-dependent qubit states. We study how the thermal currents change according to the state of the qubits hence yielding a measurement of the qubit state. This in turn leads to an impact of temperature gradient on the dynamics of the system. We show that flux qubits in the Delft qubit design can have limitations of the decoherence time to the order of microseconds as a result of this newly discovered source of decoherence. In contrast, the fluxonium qubit is found to be well protected due to its superinductance.


  • Theoretical Physics (Condensed Matter) Teaching and Research Area [135920]
  • Department of Physics [130000]