Making exotic particles in a quantum computer

I am Dr James Wootton from the Physics Department of the University of Basel. I recently did an experiment using IBMs 5Q quantum processor. In this article I’ll give you 5 reasons why you might be interested. I’ll also point you to where you can find out more.

1. We make an manipulate new particles

Majoranas are a new form of particle predicted to arise in exotic materials (more info here). Experiments that have made Majoranas have gotten a lot of attention recently. But moving them around is where the real magic happens, and that’s what we do.

Majoranas are part of the field that was awarded both the recent Nobel Prize and Buckley prize. The exotic nature that we demonstrate is also Microsoft’s favourite method of building a quantum computer.

Speaking of which…

2. Our experiment is intimately related to quantum computation

Our experiment was done on a proof-of-principle quantum processor made by IBM. The method we use to make and manipulate the Majoranas uses the error correcting codes needed for quantum computers. The exotic effects of exchanging Majoranas, which we demonstrate in our experiment to be real, could be used to implement quantum computation. Every part of our experiment is related to the fascinating new technology of quantum computation.

3. Our experiment was done using the IBM Quantum Experience

IBM are one of the world leaders in making proof-of-principle quantum processors. They recently opened one of this up to be controlled via the cloud.

This processor has been used by scientists, such as myself, to do serious experiments. But it can also be accessed by anyone with interest access. So anyone could repeat our experiment, and might even be able to find modifications that will improve the results!

4. It’s peer-reviewed

Our paper on the experiment has been published in the IOP journal Quantum Science and Technology. The preprint of our manuscript is available at

5. This work is related to our citizen science project

We have an award winning project that takes problems from quantum error correction and turns them into games. With these, the public can contribute to our research. Some players have already shown themselves to be much better at my job than I am, and their results will be incorporated into our future published work. See here for our press pack.

More Info

For more information about our experiment, please see the following non-technical articles. These are licensed under CC BY 4.0. So if you want to share the love, please feel free to reprint and remix as you wish.

Written by

Wrangler of qubits. Drinker of tea. Father.

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