Publications by Brian Vlastakis


Extending the lifetime of a quantum bit with error correction in superconducting circuits.

Nature 536 (2016) 441-445

N Ofek, A Petrenko, R Heeres, P Reinhold, Z Leghtas, B Vlastakis, Y Liu, L Frunzio, SM Girvin, L Jiang, M Mirrahimi, MH Devoret, RJ Schoelkopf

Quantum error correction (QEC) can overcome the errors experienced by qubits and is therefore an essential component of a future quantum computer. To implement QEC, a qubit is redundantly encoded in a higher-dimensional space using quantum states with carefully tailored symmetry properties. Projective measurements of these parity-type observables provide error syndrome information, with which errors can be corrected via simple operations. The 'break-even' point of QEC--at which the lifetime of a qubit exceeds the lifetime of the constituents of the system--has so far remained out of reach. Although previous works have demonstrated elements of QEC, they primarily illustrate the signatures or scaling properties of QEC codes rather than test the capacity of the system to preserve a qubit over time. Here we demonstrate a QEC system that reaches the break-even point by suppressing the natural errors due to energy loss for a qubit logically encoded in superpositions of Schrödinger-cat states of a superconducting resonator. We implement a full QEC protocol by using real-time feedback to encode, monitor naturally occurring errors, decode and correct. As measured by full process tomography, without any post-selection, the corrected qubit lifetime is 320 microseconds, which is longer than the lifetime of any of the parts of the system: 20 times longer than the lifetime of the transmon, about 2.2 times longer than the lifetime of an uncorrected logical encoding and about 1.1 longer than the lifetime of the best physical qubit (the |0〉f and |1〉f Fock states of the resonator). Our results illustrate the benefit of using hardware-efficient qubit encodings rather than traditional QEC schemes. Furthermore, they advance the field of experimental error correction from confirming basic concepts to exploring the metrics that drive system performance and the challenges in realizing a fault-tolerant system.


Implementing and Characterizing Precise Multiqubit Measurements

PHYSICAL REVIEW X 6 (2016) ARTN 031041

JZ Blumoff, K Chou, C Shen, M Reagor, C Axline, RT Brierley, MP Silveri, C Wang, B Vlastakis, SE Nigg, L Frunzio, MH Devoret, L Jiang, SM Girvin, RJ Schoelkopf


Characterizing entanglement of an artificial atom and a cavity cat state with Bell's inequality.

Nature communications 6 (2015) 8970-

B Vlastakis, A Petrenko, N Ofek, L Sun, Z Leghtas, K Sliwa, Y Liu, M Hatridge, J Blumoff, L Frunzio, M Mirrahimi, L Jiang, MH Devoret, RJ Schoelkopf

The Schrodinger's cat thought experiment highlights the counterintuitive concept of entanglement in macroscopically distinguishable systems. The hallmark of entanglement is the detection of strong correlations between systems, most starkly demonstrated by the violation of a Bell inequality. No violation of a Bell inequality has been observed for a system entangled with a superposition of coherent states, known as a cat state. Here we use the Clauser-Horne-Shimony-Holt formulation of a Bell test to characterize entanglement between an artificial atom and a cat state, or a Bell-cat. Using superconducting circuits with high-fidelity measurements and real-time feedback, we detect correlations that surpass the classical maximum of the Bell inequality. We investigate the influence of decoherence with states up to 16 photons in size and characterize the system by introducing joint Wigner tomography. Such techniques demonstrate that information stored in superpositions of coherent states can be extracted efficiently, a crucial requirement for quantum computing with resonators.


Single-Photon-Resolved Cross-Kerr Interaction for Autonomous Stabilization of Photon-Number States.

Physical review letters 115 (2015) 180501-

ET Holland, B Vlastakis, RW Heeres, MJ Reagor, U Vool, Z Leghtas, L Frunzio, G Kirchmair, MH Devoret, M Mirrahimi, RJ Schoelkopf

Quantum states can be stabilized in the presence of intrinsic and environmental losses by either applying an active feedback condition on an ancillary system or through reservoir engineering. Reservoir engineering maintains a desired quantum state through a combination of drives and designed entropy evacuation. We propose and implement a quantum-reservoir engineering protocol that stabilizes Fock states in a microwave cavity. This protocol is realized with a circuit quantum electrodynamics platform where a Josephson junction provides direct, nonlinear coupling between two superconducting waveguide cavities. The nonlinear coupling results in a single-photon-resolved cross-Kerr effect between the two cavities enabling a photon-number-dependent coupling to a lossy environment. The quantum state of the microwave cavity is discussed in terms of a net polarization and is analyzed by a measurement of its steady state Wigner function.


Cavity State Manipulation Using Photon-Number Selective Phase Gates.

Physical review letters 115 (2015) 137002-

RW Heeres, B Vlastakis, E Holland, S Krastanov, VV Albert, L Frunzio, L Jiang, RJ Schoelkopf

The large available Hilbert space and high coherence of cavity resonators make these systems an interesting resource for storing encoded quantum bits. To perform a quantum gate on this encoded information, however, complex nonlinear operations must be applied to the many levels of the oscillator simultaneously. In this work, we introduce the selective number-dependent arbitrary phase (snap) gate, which imparts a different phase to each Fock-state component using an off-resonantly coupled qubit. We show that the snap gate allows control over the quantum phases by correcting the unwanted phase evolution due to the Kerr effect. Furthermore, by combining the snap gate with oscillator displacements, we create a one-photon Fock state with high fidelity. Using just these two controls, one can construct arbitrary unitary operations, offering a scalable route to performing logical manipulations on oscillator-encoded qubits.


Quantum engineering. Confining the state of light to a quantum manifold by engineered two-photon loss.

Science (New York, N.Y.) 347 (2015) 853-857

Z Leghtas, S Touzard, IM Pop, A Kou, B Vlastakis, A Petrenko, KM Sliwa, A Narla, S Shankar, MJ Hatridge, M Reagor, L Frunzio, RJ Schoelkopf, M Mirrahimi, MH Devoret

Physical systems usually exhibit quantum behavior, such as superpositions and entanglement, only when they are sufficiently decoupled from a lossy environment. Paradoxically, a specially engineered interaction with the environment can become a resource for the generation and protection of quantum states. This notion can be generalized to the confinement of a system into a manifold of quantum states, consisting of all coherent superpositions of multiple stable steady states. We have confined the state of a superconducting resonator to the quantum manifold spanned by two coherent states of opposite phases and have observed a Schrödinger cat state spontaneously squeeze out of vacuum before decaying into a classical mixture. This experiment points toward robustly encoding quantum information in multidimensional steady-state manifolds.


Universal control of an oscillator with dispersive coupling to a qubit

PHYSICAL REVIEW A 92 (2015) ARTN 040303

S Krastanov, VV Albert, C Shen, C-L Zou, RW Heeres, B Vlastakis, RJ Schoelkopf, L Jiang


Tracking photon jumps with repeated quantum non-demolition parity measurements.

Nature 511 (2014) 444-448

L Sun, A Petrenko, Z Leghtas, B Vlastakis, G Kirchmair, KM Sliwa, A Narla, M Hatridge, S Shankar, J Blumoff, L Frunzio, M Mirrahimi, MH Devoret, RJ Schoelkopf

Quantum error correction is required for a practical quantum computer because of the fragile nature of quantum information. In quantum error correction, information is redundantly stored in a large quantum state space and one or more observables must be monitored to reveal the occurrence of an error, without disturbing the information encoded in an unknown quantum state. Such observables, typically multi-quantum-bit parities, must correspond to a special symmetry property inherent in the encoding scheme. Measurements of these observables, or error syndromes, must also be performed in a quantum non-demolition way (projecting without further perturbing the state) and more quickly than errors occur. Previously, quantum non-demolition measurements of quantum jumps between states of well-defined energy have been performed in systems such as trapped ions, electrons, cavity quantum electrodynamics, nitrogen-vacancy centres and superconducting quantum bits. So far, however, no fast and repeated monitoring of an error syndrome has been achieved. Here we track the quantum jumps of a possible error syndrome, namely the photon number parity of a microwave cavity, by mapping this property onto an ancilla quantum bit, whose only role is to facilitate quantum state manipulation and measurement. This quantity is just the error syndrome required in a recently proposed scheme for a hardware-efficient protected quantum memory using Schrödinger cat states (quantum superpositions of different coherent states of light) in a harmonic oscillator. We demonstrate the projective nature of this measurement onto a region of state space with well-defined parity by observing the collapse of a coherent state onto even or odd cat states. The measurement is fast compared with the cavity lifetime, has a high single-shot fidelity and has a 99.8 per cent probability per single measurement of leaving the parity unchanged. In combination with the deterministic encoding of quantum information in cat states realized earlier, the quantum non-demolition parity tracking that we demonstrate represents an important step towards implementing an active system that extends the lifetime of a quantum bit.


Hardware-efficient autonomous quantum memory protection.

Physical review letters 111 (2013) 120501-

Z Leghtas, G Kirchmair, B Vlastakis, RJ Schoelkopf, MH Devoret, M Mirrahimi

We propose to encode a quantum bit of information in a superposition of coherent states of an oscillator, with four different phases. Our encoding in a single cavity mode, together with a protection protocol, significantly reduces the error rate due to photon loss. This protection is ensured by an efficient quantum error correction scheme employing the nonlinearity provided by a single physical qubit coupled to the cavity. We describe in detail how to implement these operations in a circuit quantum electrodynamics system. This proposal directly addresses the task of building a hardware-efficient quantum memory and can lead to important shortcuts in quantum computing architectures.


Deterministically encoding quantum information using 100-photon Schrödinger cat states.

Science (New York, N.Y.) 342 (2013) 607-610

B Vlastakis, G Kirchmair, Z Leghtas, SE Nigg, L Frunzio, SM Girvin, M Mirrahimi, MH Devoret, RJ Schoelkopf

In contrast to a single quantum bit, an oscillator can store multiple excitations and coherences provided one has the ability to generate and manipulate complex multiphoton states. We demonstrate multiphoton control by using a superconducting transmon qubit coupled to a waveguide cavity resonator with a highly ideal off-resonant coupling. This dispersive interaction is much greater than decoherence rates and higher-order nonlinearities to allow simultaneous manipulation of hundreds of photons. With a tool set of conditional qubit-photon logic, we mapped an arbitrary qubit state to a superposition of coherent states, known as a "cat state." We created cat states as large as 111 photons and extended this protocol to create superpositions of up to four coherent states. This control creates a powerful interface between discrete and continuous variable quantum computation and could enable applications in metrology and quantum information processing.


Observation of quantum state collapse and revival due to the single-photon Kerr effect.

Nature 495 (2013) 205-209

G Kirchmair, B Vlastakis, Z Leghtas, SE Nigg, H Paik, E Ginossar, M Mirrahimi, L Frunzio, SM Girvin, RJ Schoelkopf

To create and manipulate non-classical states of light for quantum information protocols, a strong, nonlinear interaction at the single-photon level is required. One approach to the generation of suitable interactions is to couple photons to atoms, as in the strong coupling regime of cavity quantum electrodynamic systems. In these systems, however, the quantum state of the light is only indirectly controlled by manipulating the atoms. A direct photon-photon interaction occurs in so-called Kerr media, which typically induce only weak nonlinearity at the cost of significant loss. So far, it has not been possible to reach the single-photon Kerr regime, in which the interaction strength between individual photons exceeds the loss rate. Here, using a three-dimensional circuit quantum electrodynamic architecture, we engineer an artificial Kerr medium that enters this regime and allows the observation of new quantum effects. We realize a gedanken experiment in which the collapse and revival of a coherent state can be observed. This time evolution is a consequence of the quantization of the light field in the cavity and the nonlinear interaction between individual photons. During the evolution, non-classical superpositions of coherent states (that is, multi-component 'Schrödinger cat' states) are formed. We visualize this evolution by measuring the Husimi Q function and confirm the non-classical properties of these transient states by cavity state tomography. The ability to create and manipulate superpositions of coherent states in such a high-quality-factor photon mode opens perspectives for combining the physics of continuous variables with superconducting circuits. The single-photon Kerr effect could be used in quantum non-demolition measurement of photons, single-photon generation, autonomous quantum feedback schemes and quantum logic operations.


Deterministic protocol for mapping a qubit to coherent state superpositions in a cavity

PHYSICAL REVIEW A 87 (2013) ARTN 042315

Z Leghtas, G Kirchmair, B Vlastakis, MH Devoret, RJ Schoelkopf, M Mirrahimi


Black-box superconducting circuit quantization.

Physical review letters 108 (2012) 240502-

SE Nigg, H Paik, B Vlastakis, G Kirchmair, S Shankar, L Frunzio, MH Devoret, RJ Schoelkopf, SM Girvin

We present a semiclassical method for determining the effective low-energy quantum Hamiltonian of weakly anharmonic superconducting circuits containing mesoscopic Josephson junctions coupled to electromagnetic environments made of an arbitrary combination of distributed and lumped elements. A convenient basis, capturing the multimode physics, is given by the quantized eigenmodes of the linearized circuit and is fully determined by a classical linear response function. The method is used to calculate numerically the low-energy spectrum of a 3D transmon system, and quantitative agreement with measurements is found.