Quantum error correction with spins in diamond

Julia Cramer

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

1493 Downloads (Pure)


Digital information based on the laws of quantum mechanics promisses powerful new ways of computation and communication. However, quantum information is very fragile; inevitable errors continuously build up and eventually all information is lost. Therefore, realistic large-scale quantum information processing requires the protection of quantum bits (qubits) against errors. In this thesis we present the experimental implementation of quantum error correction protocols based on spins in diamond. In such protocols, a quantum state is protected against errors by encoding in multiple qubits. Errors can be detected and corrected by measurement of correlations, so-called stabilizer-measurements, on these qubits.The experimental work presented in this thesis employs multiple spins in diamond as qubits to explore and implement error correction protocols. The nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centre in diamond is a lattice defect consisting of a nitrogen atom (N) and a vacancy (V) on two adjacent diamond lattice sites. This defect effectively results in an electronic spin that can be addressed as a qubit. The spin state can be manipulated by microwave fields and optically read out. At liquid helium temperatures (cryogenic temperature, ~4 K = -269 C), the NV electron spin provides high-fidelity single-shot readout and long coherence times.The NV centre is surrounded by naturally available (1.1% abundance) nuclear C13 spins. As the number of spins that are close enough to the NV centre to be strongly coupled is limited, we employ the weakly coupled nuclear spins in the spin bath of the NV centre. Using dynamical decoupling techniques these nuclear spins can be detected via the NV electron spin through the hyperfine interaction. The nuclear spins are long-lived and robust against optical excitation of the NV electron spin, which can make these spins a robust quantum register for quantum error correction.In Ch. 4 we demonstrate universal control over multiple of such weakly coupled nuclear C13 spins in the environment of the NV centre at ambient temperatures. We demonstrate initialization, control and read-out of individual nuclear spins. Finally, we implement a quantum error correction protocol by encoding a quantum state in the NV electron spin and two nuclear spins. Errors are detected by un-encoding the quantum state back to the electron spin and correction via a double controlled operation.For universal fault-tolerant quantum computations it is essential that the quantum information remains encoded at all times. In Ch. 5 we present multiple rounds of quantum error correction and active feedback on a continuously encoded qubit at cryogenic temperatures. A quantum state is protected by encoding in three weakly coupled spins. Errors are detected via high-fidelity non-demolition readout of the NV electron spin and actively corrected using fast classical electronics. We demonstrate that an actively error-corrected qubit is robust against phase flip errors and show that a superposition state can live longer than the best physical qubit in the encoding.The presented methods and results can be extended to a range of future experiments. In Ch. 6 we propose the implementation of five-qubit quantum error correction, the smallest code to correct for general single-qubit errors on the physical qubits in the encoding, by extending the experimental methods as developed in Chs. 4&5. Besides the exploration and development of larger error correction protocols and fault-tolerant quantum computing, the presented quantum register based in spins in diamond can be employed as a quantum node and combined with recent advances in the realization of quantum entanglement over large distances to form quantum networks. These networks can be used to study both fundamental questions as well as future applications in quantum information technology.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Hanson, R., Supervisor
  • Taminiau, T.H., Advisor
Award date8 Dec 2016
Print ISBNs978-90-8593-270-3
Electronic ISBNs978-90-8593-270-3
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Casimir PhD Series Delft-Leiden 2016-26


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