Errors in quantum logic gates are usually modeled by quantum process matrices (CPTP maps). But process matrices can be opaque and unwieldy. We show how to transform the process matrix of a gate into an error generator that represents the same information more usefully. We construct a basis of simple and physically intuitive elementary error generators, classify them, and show how to represent the error generator of any gate as a mixture of elementary error generators with various rates. Finally, we show how to build a large variety of reduced models for gate errors by combining elementary error generators and/or entire subsectors of generator space. We conclude with a few examples of reduced models, including one with just 9N2 parameters that describes almost all commonly predicted errors on an N-qubit processor.
Optimally-shaped electromagnetic fields have the capacity to coherently control the dynamics of quantum systems and thus offer a promising means for controlling molecular transformations relevant to chemical, biological, and materials applications. Currently, advances in this area are hindered by the prohibitive cost of the quantum dynamics simulations needed to explore the principles and possibilities of molecular control. However, the emergence of nascent quantum-computing devices suggests that efficient simulations of quantum dynamics may be on the horizon. In this article, we study how quantum computers could be employed to design optimally-shaped fields to control molecular systems. We introduce a hybrid algorithm that utilizes a quantum computer for simulating the field-induced quantum dynamics of a molecular system in polynomial time, in combination with a classical optimization approach for updating the field. Qubit encoding methods relevant for molecular control problems are described, and procedures for simulating the quantum dynamics and obtaining the simulation results are discussed. Numerical illustrations are then presented that explicitly treat paradigmatic vibrational and rotational control problems, and also consider how optimally-shaped fields could be used to elucidate the mechanisms of energy transfer in light-harvesting complexes. Resource estimates, as well as a numerical assessment of the impact of hardware noise and the prospects of near-term hardware implementations, are provided for the latter task.
After decades of R&D, quantum computers comprising more than 2 qubits are appearing. If this progress is to continue, the research community requires a capability for precise characterization (“tomography”) of these enlarged devices, which will enable benchmarking, improvement, and finally certification as mission-ready. As world leaders in characterization -- our gate set tomography (GST) method is the current state of the art – the project team is keenly aware that every existing protocol is either (1) catastrophically inefficient for more than 2 qubits, or (2) not rich enough to predict device behavior. GST scales poorly, while the popular randomized benchmarking technique only measures a single aggregated error probability. This project explored a new insight: that the combinatorial explosion plaguing standard GST could be avoided by using an ansatz of few-qubit interactions to build a complete, efficient model for multi-qubit errors. We developed this approach, prototyped it, and tested it on a cutting-edge quantum processor developed by Rigetti Quantum Computing (RQC), a US-based startup. We implemented our new models within Sandia’s PyGSTi open-source code, and tested them experimentally on the RQC device by probing crosstalk. We found two major results: first, our schema worked and is viable for further development; second, while the Rigetti device is indeed a “real” 8-qubit quantum processor, its behavior fluctuated significantly over time while we were experimenting with it and this drift made it difficult to fit our models of crosstalk to the data.
A number of applications in basic science and technology would benefit from high-fidelity photon-number-resolving photodetectors. While some recent experimental progress has been made in this direction, the requirements for true photon number resolution are stringent, and no design currently exists that achieves this goal. Here we employ techniques from fundamental quantum optics to demonstrate that detectors composed of subwavelength elements interacting collectively with the photon field can achieve high-performance photon number resolution. We propose a new design that simultaneously achieves photon number resolution, high efficiency, low jitter, low dark counts, and high count rate. We discuss specific systems that satisfy the design requirements, pointing to the important role of nanoscale device elements.
Photodetection plays a key role in basic science and technology, with exquisite performance having been achieved down to the single-photon level. Further improvements in photodetectors would open new possibilities across a broad range of scientific disciplines and enable new types of applications. However, it is still unclear what is possible in terms of ultimate performance and what properties are needed for a photodetector to achieve such performance. Here, we present a general modeling framework for photodetectors whereby the photon field, the absorption process, and the amplification process are all treated as one coupled quantum system. The formalism naturally handles field states with single or multiple photons as well as a variety of detector configurations and includes a mathematical definition of ideal photodetector performance. In conclusion, the framework reveals how specific photodetector architectures introduce limitations and tradeoffs for various performance metrics, providing guidance for optimization and design.
Single-photon detectors have achieved impressive performance and have led to a number of new scientific discoveries and technological applications. Existing models of photodetectors are semiclassical in that the field-matter interaction is treated perturbatively and time-separated from physical processes in the absorbing matter. An open question is whether a fully quantum detector, whereby the optical field, the optical absorption, and the amplification are considered as one quantum system, could have improved performance. Here we develop a theoretical model of such photodetectors and employ simulations to reveal the critical role played by quantum coherence and amplification backaction in dictating the performance. We show that coherence and backaction lead to trade-offs between detector metrics and also determine optimal system designs through control of the quantum-classical interface. Importantly, we establish the design parameters that result in a ideal photodetector with 100% efficiency, no dark counts, and minimal jitter, thus paving the route for next-generation detectors.
Randomized benchmarking (RB) is widely used to measure an error rate of a set of quantum gates, by performing random circuits that would do nothing if the gates were perfect. In the limit of no finite-sampling error, the exponential decay rate of the observable survival probabilities, versus circuit length, yields a single error metric r. For Clifford gates with arbitrary small errors described by process matrices, r was believed to reliably correspond to the mean, over all Clifford gates, of the average gate infidelity between the imperfect gates and their ideal counterparts. We show that this quantity is not a well-defined property of a physical gate set. It depends on the representations used for the imperfect and ideal gates, and the variant typically computed in the literature can differ from r by orders of magnitude. We present new theories of the RB decay that are accurate for all small errors describable by process matrices, and show that the RB decay curve is a simple exponential for all such errors. These theories allow explicit computation of the error rate that RB measures (r), but as far as we can tell it does not correspond to the infidelity of a physically allowed (completely positive) representation of the imperfect gates.