In today’s digital age, information is represented by binary bits, or zeros and ones. But quantum information technology introduces a new kind of representation called a qubit, or quantum bit, which is zero and one at the same time. Thanks to qubits, quantum computers have the potential to be millions of times more powerful than today’s supercomputers.
Tian Zhong, an assistant professor at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago, was awarded a grant in which he aims to create a new form of qubits using rare-earth elements doped in solids. Rare-earth elements refer to the lanthanide series, a family of atoms in the periodic table with atomic numbers from 58 to 71.
Zhong chose to use rare-earth atoms because they have demonstrated superb quantum coherence properties desirable for quantum technology. In addition, these materials are already ubiquitous in electronic gadgets such as TV displays, laser pointers, and mobile phones.