New Material Could Benefit Next-Generation Quantum Computing

Author(s): Staff reports
Photographs by: Andrew Hancock


Michael Manfra, the William E. and Patty J. Miller Associate Professor of Physics, holds a gallium-arsenide wafer that could influence next-generation quantum computing.

A team of researchers led by Michael Manfra, the William F. and Patty J. Miller Associate Professor of Physics, has been awarded a $1 million W.M. Keck Foundation grant to create a material that forces electrons into rare states important to basic research and with potential applications for next-generation quantum computing.

The material, ultrapure gallium arsenide semiconductor heterostructures, captures electrons in quantum wells that allow them to zip along without bumping into impurities and scattering, according to Manfra.

In ultrapure quantum wells, the electrons only interact with each other, and researchers are able to push electrons within the material into much sought-after
“correlated states.” When electrons are in a correlated state, a change applied to one is reflected in the motion of all the others. If this behavior could be harnessed and controlled, it could be used to create a new way to store and process information.

Cleaner starting materials and new growth methods are needed to make semiconductors that can achieve these new correlated states, Manfra says. The Purdue team includes Gabor Csathy, associate professor of physics; David Johnson, associate professor of materials engineering; and Kevin Trumble, professor of materials engineering.