Zurich Instruments Newsletter - Edition Q3/2020
Welcome to the Q3/2020 newsletter!
In this edition you'll find out about our new instrument, the SHFQA Quantum Analyzer, which was designed with the needs of researchers in quantum information science in mind. You will also receive your quarterly input of tips and tricks for your measurements with lock-in amplifiers and impedance analyzers.
- News: SHFQA Quantum Analyzer
- News: SHFQA launch event
- Interview: The SHFQA in the words of those who developed it
- News: IEEE Quantum Week workshop
- News: QIDiS 2020 goes virtual
- Interview: Dr. Heng Shen, Shanxi University
Company & Community
News: SHFQA Quantum Analyzer
We are happy to announce the launch of the SHFQA Quantum Analyzer, the first instrument of its kind that operates at up to 8.5 GHz and can thus perform direct readout of superconducting and spin qubits. The instrument comes with 2 or 4 readout channels, each of which can optimally discriminate the quantum states of up to 16 qubits, 8 qutrits or 5 ququads with readout frequencies within a 1 GHz analysis bandwidth.
"The SHFQA is the result of combining the experience and needs of our customers in quantum technologies with the exceptional talent of our R&D team. The outcome is an outstanding instrument that takes our philosophy of reducing laboratory setup complexity to new levels,"
says Dr. Paolo Navaretti, Product Manager at Zurich Instruments.
News: SHFQA launch event
We will present the features and capabilities that make the SHFQA such an innovative instrument for qubit readout in a live launch event on 17 November 2020. We will show you how to read out 16 qubits at 8 GHz using only two microwave cables, without the need for mixer calibration. We will also provide you with more details on the instrument, its concept, and its role within the Zurich Instruments Quantum Computing Control System (QCCS).
You can now register your interest to receive updates about the SHFQA launch event.
The SHFQA in the words of those who developed it
The development of the SHFQA started more than three years ago: it is the most complex project at Zurich Instruments to date. With great excitement and strong motivation, we combined different technical backgrounds, roles and viewpoints to create an instrument designed for quantum computing scientists. Let us take you behind the scenes to learn more about this project through the eyes of some of the experts in the SHFQA team.
Flavio Heer – made sure that the SHFQA became a reality
From the very beginning, the SHFQA was conceived to help quantum scientists obtain results with higher reproducibility and less effort, reducing the time spent on instrument calibration. For this reason, we decided to combine arbitrary waveform generator, local oscillator and radio-frequency (RF) components in one box: the SHFQA contains all room-temperature electronics needed to perform qubit calibration and readout. It provides high-performance RF signal outputs and inputs that can be directly connected to the cryogenic electronics, and no calibration of IQ mixers is required. To develop this instrument, we brought the RF electronics design at Zurich Instruments to a new level. The combination of the acquired RF knowledge and our passion for digital electronics has led to the SHFQA.
Fabian Pfäffli – worked on the hardware and radio-frequency design
The SHFQA hardware platform required us to change the way we develop hardware at Zurich Instruments. To handle such large designs in our electronic design automation tool, we needed to upgrade to dedicated high-performance workstations that can cope with the large amounts of data while maintaining smooth operation. This also helped with the 3D computer-assisted design of the mechanical parts: when it comes to an instrument operating at such high frequencies, every aspect of the casing design counts. "Over-engineered" is a term hardly known among RF specialists. Another change had to do with the way we evaluate circuits and sub-systems. In the GHz frequency domain, it is inevitable to evaluate circuitry on custom-designed PC boards and test setups that need proper review. Even though I already had quite some experience with high-frequency and low-noise/high-sensitivity electronics, this project pushed me out of my comfort zone. But to see the SHFQA work in the capable hands of our external testing partner was rewarding, and I'm looking forward to many people using our newest instrument.
Marios Karakasis – ensured that product development matched product vision
Developing the SHFQA required a tight collaboration within a team of experts in electronics, firmware and software engineering and quantum computing. Bringing these experts and product managers together in a virtual room was a key success factor to achieving rapid communication and effective decision-making. Given that the development efforts peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic, I am proud of the team who adapted so well to new ways of working together.
Tobias Thiele – responsible for bringing the product to the market
As a product manager for the SHFQA, one of my responsibilities is to help define the product based on the market. Given the fast-paced nature of the quantum computing field and the need to make crucial design decisions early on in the project, careful evaluation of the field's state of the art was necessary to predict its evolution over the time frame required to develop the new instrument. It was an exciting endeavor to gather input from customers and collaborators, as well as from the quantum technology experts and engineers at Zurich Instruments, to shape the SHFQA. The team has succeeded in developing this incredible instrument, coming up with creative solutions to bring more value to the customer and working just as effectively during the lockdown caused by COVID-19. Every day we find that there is a growing need for an instrument such as the SHFQA in the quantum computing community, as it becomes increasingly clear that researchers run into limitations with conventional approaches.
Johannes Herrmann – introduced the SHFQA to real qubits
As a PhD student in the field of quantum computing, I know well that to push forward our experiments we need a higher level of integration for microwave and digital processing electronics. Both the SHFQA hardware design and the first tests on the quantum hardware were challenging tasks framing the first two years of my PhD at ETH Zurich. A typical electronic setup to read out and control a multi-qubit experiment relies on a full server rack filled with microwave sources, arbitrary waveform generators, data acquisition and IQ mixer modules. Being able to combine all these components in a single box without compromising the measurement performance is an important step towards building a system with hundreds of qubits. And as the SHFQA doesn't require the tiresome calibration of IQ mixers, the system's tune-up time is significantly reduced – giving us scientists more time to work on the important aspects of our experiments.
News: IEEE Quantum Week workshop
What does it take to build a scalable quantum computer? Scientists and engineers from academia and industry have been developing some common strategies, but it is now important to converge towards a set of globally accepted guidelines with the long-term goal of forming industry standards. On 13 October 2020, Zurich Instruments will lead a workshop on this topic at the IEEE Quantum Week. We will bring together authoritative representatives from academia, industry and test & measurement instrument manufacturers, and will look into what has been achieved and what remains to be done within the superconducting circuits community to identify a general set of guidelines supporting the development of quantum computers.
News: QIDiS 2020 goes virtual
In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizing committee has decided to move QIDiS 2020 online, providing a fully virtual experience on 2 October 2020. This is the safest solution to guarantee the well-being of our global audience while offering a platform for knowledge exchange on quantum technology. The virtual meeting will bring to you the same content and speakers as the physical one, and it will provide great networking opportunities. Take a look at the agenda for more information.
Interview: Dr. Heng Shen, Shanxi University
Hi Heng, we find that you have rich international work experience. Can you tell us about your academic path and your research topics?
After my bachelor’s degree at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, I was recommended for admission to Shanxi University as a postgraduate. Between 2011 and 2015, I pursued my PhD in the laboratory of Prof. Eugene Polzik at the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen University. My doctoral project was on spin squeezing and entanglement with room-temperature atoms; the aim was to develop a miniaturized quantum atomic magnetometer with sensitivity beyond the standard quantum limit. When I joined the laboratory of Prof. Rainer Blatt at the University of Innsbruck as a postdoc, I shifted my research focus to trapped ions. I worked on quantum chemistry simulations and explored dynamical quantum phase transitions. In 2017 I was awarded the Newton International Fellowship: in the laboratory of Prof. Ian Walmsley at the University of Oxford, I started my current work on quantum state engineering of a hybrid spin-mechanical system, which is highly exploratory.
You have worked overseas for nine years. Have you been collaborating with researchers in China?
Yes I have. Research facilities and the novelty of research in China are catching up. It is a great pleasure to collaborate with colleagues in China and form a team with an interdisciplinary background. Together with Prof. Nanyang Xu and Bing Chen at the Hefei University of Technology, I worked on quantum control and engineering of the electron-nuclear spin of NV centers in diamond. More recently, in the lab of Prof. Yanhong Xiao at Fudan University, we achieved spin squeezing of 100 billion atoms: this sets a new record that increases by three orders the one achieved during my PhD. Thanks to squeezed states, we could go beyond the standard quantum limit by three orders. This result, recently published in Nature, is an important step towards high-precision quantum metrology.
What about returning to China and establishing your own laboratory there?
I have recently moved back to the State Key Laboratory of Quantum Optics and Quantum Optics Devices at Shanxi University. It is a top-notch center for quantum optics, with first-class research facilities and innovative research teams. Work carried out there is at the forefront of research in quantum optics and light-matter interactions. I also chose this institute because I was born and raised in Shanxi; I am familiar with and fond of the local culture and traditions. I will open a laboratory focusing on quantum simulation and computing with trapped ions and cold atoms.
Are you hiring? Will you welcome your first PhD students?
Yes, I am looking for PhD students. I would like PhD applicants to be diligent and self-driven. A solid background in physics is not a must, however, as I majored in optoelectronics and not in physics at university.
When did you start using Zurich Instruments lock-in amplifiers?
During my PhD I used the HF2LI Lock-in Amplifier. It allowed me to measure the quantum fluctuations of the optical field, which is used to reconstruct atomic states. Before adding the HF2LI to our setup, we benchmarked it against a high-frequency lock-in amplifier from another company. On top of a high dynamic reserve of 120 dB, the HF2LI outperformed the other instrument in terms of crosstalk suppression from high-order harmonics. It also offered a wider range when it comes to configuring the low-pass filters. At the time, the MFLI Lock-in Amplifier and the LabOne® control software were not available. In our recent experiment on spin squeezing we used the MFLI and took advantage of LabOne, which offers useful tools such as the built-in data acquisition (DAQ) module. This solution helped us reduce the complexity of our setup.
What are your interests outside of the laboratory?
I like opera, Peking operas, and Shanxi folk music. This interest may seem striking given my age. In Denmark and Austria I had many chances to enjoy high-level performances in the local languages and in Italian: those were terrific visual and vocal experiences. In the lounge room of our group at Copenhagen University there was a piano too, and so we organized a mini opera club. Among my favorite classical Peking operas are traditional ones such as Yu Zhou Feng (Beauty Defies Tyranny) and Suo Lin Nang (The Unicorn Purse). In Austria I also started hiking. Walking up mountains and around alpine lakes is truly refreshing.
Blog Post: The many applications of the MF-MD Multi-Demodulator option
If you’ve been using lock-in amplifiers for a while, you will most likely associate one lock-in with one measurement. When you need to measure 3 higher harmonics at the same time, you add 3 lock-in amplifiers; if your goal is to take measurements at 5 different frequencies simultaneously, you buy 5 additional lock-in amplifiers – and so on. In this blog post, Jelena Trbovic shows how you can keep your setup simple and extend the measurement capabilities of your Zurich Instruments lock-in amplifier.
Blog Post: Multiplexed impedance measurements with the MFIA
Are you interested in extending the number of measurement channels on the MFIA Impedance Analyzer? In this impedance blog post, Meng Li demonstrates how to do so with a CSEM 8-2 multiplexer. Using the DIO on the MFIA back panel, the multiplexer can be controlled with the LabOne software and its APIs for easy automation of the entire workflow.
News: LabOne 20.07 released
LabOne® is the cockpit for instrument control and signal acquisition. Thanks to its high-performance data processing and real-time visualization, LabOne ensures that measurements are efficient and reliable. The latest version of LabOne (20.07) has just been released, and it includes built-in firmware updates for our instruments. Among them, the HDAWG, the UHFQA and the PQSC – which are all components of the Quantum Computing Control System (QCCS) – will benefit the most from the new release. In addition to performance enhancement and stability improvements, the following features will be crucial for the control electronics of scalable quantum processors:
- Feedback of qubit results from any readout channel to any control channel in the QCCS
- Reliable playback of long waveforms through the new FIFO memory architecture
- Memory-efficient sequencing with real-time amplitude or phase changes via the command table
- Real-time pseudo-random sequence generation on the HDAWG
- API support for Python 3.8
Importantly, LabOne 20.07 resolves a critical performance issue with Windows 10, version 2004 (also known as the Windows 10 May 2020 Update).
Winners of the Student Travel Grant 2020
We would like to thank all applicants who submitted entries for the 2020 call. We were excited to see the growing popularity of our Student Travel Grants, with a considerable increase in the number of submissions compared to last year.
The submitted papers and theses covered a wide range of applications and research topics. As in previous years, to guarantee a fair selection we adopted a two-step process where we first verified the eligibility and quality of the submissions; we then used a 'random winner generator' to choose three grant recipients from the list of eligible applicants.
This year's winners are:
- David Hälg (ETH Zürich, Switzerland), Membrane-based scanning force microscopy, arXiv:2006.06238v1. Featured instrument: HF2LI Lock-in Ampliﬁer.
- Michal Macha (EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland), Wetting of nanopores probed with pressure, arXiv:1911.05229v2. Featured instrument: MFLI Lock-in Ampliﬁer.
- Sebastian Reichert (Technische Universität Chemnitz, Germany), Ionic-Defect Distribution Revealed by Improved Evaluation of Deep-Level Transient Spectroscopy on Perovskite Solar Cells, Phys. Rev. Applied 13, 034018 (2020). Featured instrument: MFLI Lock-in Ampliﬁer.
We are grateful for the increasing number of submissions to the Student Travel Grants. Learning about our instruments' applications through this channel helps us connect with young researchers in our users' communities. Congratulations to this year's winners and don't forget – the call will open again in 2021!
David, Michal and Sebastian, can you tell us how you first learned about Zurich Instruments? How do Zurich Instruments' products support your work? And what do you like about the instruments?
"When I started to work in the lab, the HF2LI Lock-in Amplifier was the first instrument I was introduced to and so I quickly grew accustomed to it. With the many APIs and the clear LabOne interface backing it all up, it is easy to use and very versatile. Now I wish every instrument in the lab were like that. In our work with a high-Q membrane resonator as sensor in a scanning force microscope, we rely on a stable phase-locked loop to track our resonances. With the HF2LI, the implementation was straightforward and every question about the instrument was answered quickly by the great support team at Zurich Instruments. This gave us more time to focus on the research instead of spending hours to set up a complicated instrument."
"All our experimental setups are self-made (or self-assembled, rather). Although we always took pride in that, we never really achieved their true sensing capability until we started to use the MFLI Lock-in Amplifier as the basis for signal acquisition and processing. After carefully fine-tuning our protocols and harnessing the lock-in amplifier measuring potential, we have now reached the true cutting-edge sensing precision, which is extremely rare and desired in our research field."
"I first came into contact with Zurich Instruments when I realized a DLTS setup with the MFLI Lock-in Amplifier at the beginning of my PhD program. The lock-in amplifier completely fulfilled my requirements, so that getting to operate it well was a basic prerequisite for me to master the topic of my PhD research. It was easy to familiarize myself with the hardware and the software, as there is remarkable documentation. The support was always fast and efficient, which meant that problems could be easily solved."
We are hiring
Are you passionate about science, technology, and instrumentation? Join our dynamic team and break new ground in high-end scientific instrumentation created for scientists and engineers in leading laboratories around the world. Be at the cutting edge of technology – we have exciting open positions in R&D, marketing and sales, and operations:
Headquarters Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich Instruments USA (Boston)
Zurich Instruments China (Shanghai)
- Application Engineer China
- Application Scientist China (Physics, EE)
- Application Scientist Quantum Computing China
- Technical Sales China
Recent publications featuring the HDAWG
- Guo, X.-Y. et al. Observation of Bloch oscillations and Wannier-Stark localization on a superconducting processor. arXiv:2007.08853.
- Negrneac, V. et al. High-fidelity controlled-Z gate with maximal intermediate leakage operating at the speed limit in a superconducting quantum processor. arXiv:2008.07411.