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Breaking a Longstanding Barrier in Quantum Computing: Scientists Innovate Efficient 2D Device for Quantum Cooling

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Overcoming a Key Quantum Computing Hurdle: Scientists Develop Efficient 2D Device for Quantum Cooling

In quantum computing, qubits must be cooled to millikelvin temperatures (-273 degrees Celsius) to minimize atomic motion and noise. However, managing heat dissipation from control electronics at such low temperatures has been a longstanding challenge. Current solutions often separate quantum circuits from electronic components, introducing noise and inefficiencies that hinder scaling beyond laboratory settings.

Researchers at EPFL’s Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES), led by Andras Kis, have now engineered a breakthrough device. This device operates efficiently at ultra-low temperatures, matching the conversion efficiency of room temperature technologies.

“We’ve achieved a device that matches current efficiency standards but functions in the low magnetic fields and ultra-low temperatures required for quantum systems. This is a significant leap forward,” explains LANES PhD student Gabriele Pasquale.

The device leverages graphene’s excellent electrical conductivity combined with the semiconductor properties of indium selenide, forming a two-dimensional structure. This unique material combination enables unprecedented performance, as reported in Nature Nanotechnology.

Harnessing the Nernst Effect
The device utilizes the Nernst effect, a complex thermoelectric phenomenon where applying a magnetic field perpendicular to an object with varying temperature generates electrical voltage. The device’s 2D structure allows precise electrical control over this mechanism.

Fabricated at the EPFL Center for MicroNanoTechnology and LANES, experiments involved using a laser for heat and a specialized dilution refrigerator to achieve 100 millikelvin temperatures—colder than outer space. Converting heat to voltage at such temperatures is typically challenging, but the novel device effectively utilizes the Nernst effect, addressing a critical need in quantum technology.

“In conventional computing, a laptop generates heat that warms its surroundings. In quantum computing, managing heat to prevent interference with qubits is crucial. Our device could provide this essential cooling mechanism,” Pasquale elaborates.

Pasquale, a physicist, underscores the significance of exploring thermopower conversion at low temperatures, an area previously underexplored. The LANES team envisions integrating their high-efficiency device into existing low-temperature quantum circuits, potentially revolutionizing cooling technologies for future quantum computing applications.

“This advancement represents a major step forward in nanotechnology, promising advanced cooling solutions vital for quantum computing at millikelvin temperatures,” Pasquale concludes. “We believe this innovation could redefine cooling systems for next-generation technologies.”