Edition Q4/2018

Content

Editorial

Welcome to the Q4 2018 newsletter!

Zurich Instruments is increasing its engagement in the quantum world by launching the first commercial Quantum Computer Control System. Building a quantum computer takes a huge effort on many levels. This rough illustration of the full quantum stack outlines some of the most important components:

Full Quantum Stack

Zurich Instruments is determined to contributing with the finest electronics and software to enable our customers to scale efficiently to a large number of qubits while keeping the complexity at bay. We believe that the efficient and well-orchestrated interplay between the required instruments gives our customers a key advantage, linking high-level quantum algorithms with their physical qubit implementation.

First commercial Quantum Computing Control System

Our Quantum Computing Control System consists of 4 building blocks:

The combination of the above instruments and software enables the control of over 100 qubits and makes Zurich Instruments the first company to deliver a complete commercial Quantum Computing Control System. Check out the 3 Application Notes illustrating the successful use of our instruments.

Pioneer Award goes to TU Delft

Our application engineers work closely with future users to achieve successful product development. We want to express our gratitude and appreciation for the excellent collaboration with the Quantum Transport group headed by Leo DiCarlo at TU Delft. In particular, Niels Bultink and Adriaan Rol helped us to test and refine the UHFQA Quantum Analyzer and the HDAWG Arbitrary Waveform Generator. Kudos for their perseverance! We just awarded them with our first Pioneer Award. Check out the interviews below.

A Quantum Computer for Europe
Joining Forces for New FET Flagship Project OpenSuperQ

Zurich Instruments is one of 10 international partners from academia and industry that will collaborate in a unique research endeavor to build a hybrid high-performance quantum computer. The new EU project OpenSuperQ – An Open Superconducting Quantum Computer - is part of the large-scale Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagship initiative on Quantum Technologies. This 1-billion-euro initiative is funded by the European Commission and brings together experienced partners from across the EU.

The entire team of Zurich Instruments is thrilled to take responsibility for the quantum processor control system that executes the quantum algorithms and reads out the results.

Company growth

We'd like to welcome Jim Phillips to the Zurich Instrument team as our first US-based Application Scientist. After an intense training period in Zurich, he has recently returned to the Boston area where he began supporting our US customers.

To sustain our ongoing worldwide growth we are looking to hire more people in Boston, Shanghai, and Zurich. Interested in joining an inspiring team? Please check our open positions below.

We wish you an interesting read, a happy year's end and look forward to our next personal exchange!

New Product
Programmable Quantum System Controller (PQSC)

Key Features

  • Control up to 100 qubits
  • Synchronizes up to 18 HDAWGs, i.e. 144 output channels
  • System clock distribution
  • Customization through user access to FPGA
    Xilinx® UltraScale+™️ XCZU15EG-2I
  • <100 ns communication latency
  • LabOne® control software (Windows and Linux) and APIs for LabVIEW®, Python, C, MATLAB®, .NET

The Zurich Instruments PQSC Programmable Quantum System Controller brings together the instrumentation required for quantum computers of up to 100 qubits and more. Its ZSync low-latency real-time communication links are designed specifically for quantum computing; the PQSC overcomes the practical limitat of traditional control approaches, making automated and rapid qubit calibration routines a reality. Programming access to the powerful Xilinx UltraScale+ FPGA is the basis for developing new and optimized processing solutions for rapid tune-up and error correction adapted to the specifics of the algorithm and computer architecture used.

Check the product page for more details or contact us directly to start the conversation.

New Product
Quantum Analyzer (UHFQA) for parallel qubit readout

Key Features

  • 1.8 GSa/s, ±600 MHz measurement range by single-sideband modulation
  • Parallel readout of up to 10 qubits
  • Configurable matched filters, signal conditioning, crosstalk suppression, threshold operations
  • 12 bit dual-channel input, 14 bit dual-channel AWG
  • LabOne® control software (Windows and Linux) and APIs for LabVIEW®, Python, C, MATLAB®, .NET

The Zurich Instruments UHFQA Quantum Analyzer is a unique tool for parallel readout of up to 10 superconducting or spin qubits with high speed and fidelity. The UHFQA covers a frequency span up to ±600 MHz, with nanosecond timing resolution. It features 2 signal inputs and outputs for IQ base-band operation. Thanks to its low-latency signal processing chain of matched filters, real-time matrix operations, and state discrimination, the UHFQA supports a roadmap for ambitious quantum computing projects with 100 qubits and more.

Check the product page for more details or contact us directly to start the conversation.

High Density Arbitrary Waveform Generator (HDAWG)

Key Features

  • 2.4 GSa/s, 16 bit, 750 MHz signal bandwidth
  • 5 Vpp maximum amplitude
  • Highest channel density available
  • Less than 50 ns trigger to output delay
  • LabOne® control software (Windows and Linux) and APIs for LabVIEW®, Python, C, MATLAB®, .NET

The Zurich Instruments HDAWG multi-channel Arbitrary Waveform Generator (AWG) has the highest channel density available in its class and is designed for advanced signal generation up to 750 MHz bandwidth. The HDAWG comes with either 4 or 8 DC-coupled, single-ended analog output channels with 16 bit vertical resolution. Each output can be switched between a direct mode, with maximized bandwidth and superior noise performance, and an amplified mode that boosts the signal amplitude to a maximum of 5 Vpp. With 2 markers per channel precise setup synchronization is guaranteed, while the full 16 bit output resolution is maintained.

LabOne® provides a state-of-the-art programming concept that combines the performance and flexibility of an AWG with the ease-of-use of a function generator. The platform-independent LabOne User Interface (UI) and a choice of APIs provide for easy measurement automation and fast integration into an existing control environment.

Check the product page for more details or contact us directly to start the conversation.

Application Know-how: Quantum Computing

Frequency Up-Conversion for Arbitrary Waveform Generators

Many of today's approaches to building a quantum computer require the reliable generation of arbitrary microwave signals in the 4.5 to 9 GHz regime for qubit manipulation and readout. Whereas signal timing, resolution and low noise are of utmost importance, the signal modulation bandwidth required is usually limited to a couple of hundred MHz. This Technical Note on Frequency Up-conversion for Arbitrary Waveform Generators gives a detailed description and list of components required for up-converting the In-phase (I) and Quadrature (Q) signals provided by the Zurich Instruments HDAWG, a multi-channel Arbitrary Waveform Generator with up to 750 MHz bandwidth and 8 local oscillators, to 8 GHz.

Download and read

Superconducting Qubit Characterization describes some of the basic measurements and control patterns needed in every quantum experiment before actual computations can be made.

In particular, you learn how to use the UHF Quantum Analyzer to characterize superconducting qubits in terms of their frequency, qubit state lifetime and coherence time. The measurements presented also provide tuning of the pulse shapes used to compose quantum computing sequences. The single-qubit device used in the experiments presented here is designed according to the circuit quantum electrodynamics architecture which is extendable towards multi-qubit experiments. The measurements were carried out in Prof. A. Wallraff’s Quantum Device Lab at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

Download and read

Active Reset of Superconducting Qubits shows the fast feedback capability and advantage of combining measurement and signal generation in a single instrument for the initialization of qubits.

The presented method consists of a single-shot measurement of the qubit’s state followed by a conditional single-qubit gate operation that rotates the qubit into the ground state, in case it was found in the excited state. We compare the method with the simpler alternative for state initialization, passive waiting for qubit decay, and quantify the speed and fidelity advantage of the active method. Speed is relevant for achieving high experimental repetition rates.

Download and read

Zurich Instruments Pioneer Award

Zurich Instruments already has a tradition of recognizing researchers through the student travel and workshop grants. This autumn we introduced a brand new award - the Zurich Instruments Pioneer Award. The prize is designed to recognize the importance of collaboration with our customers and partners, who provide us with valuable feedback and ideas and challenge us to make the best performing and most user-friendly instruments.

The first recipients of the award are Niels Bultink and Adriaan Rol, both from the Delft University of Technology. Under the leadership of Leo DiCarlo, the head of the Quantum Transport group, they supported Zurich Instruments during the development of the UHFQA Quantum Analyzer and the HDAWG Arbitrary Waveform Generator.

Niels and Adriaan received the prize from Sadik Hafizovic, CEO of Zurich Instruments, during a lab visit at the TU Delft. On the picture: Leo DiCarlo, Sadik Hafizovic, Adriaan Rol, and Niels Bultink (from top left)

Interview: Adriaan Rol (HDAWG Pioneer)

The very first HDAWG prototype outside Zurich Instruments's R&D lab was delivered to you in the summer of 2017. At that time, the device was still under development and did not always behave as expected. What did the role of an early adopter of the HDAWG entail?

Adriaan: I would say that my role consisted mostly of a combination of debugging and suggesting features that would improve the usability of the HDAWG. We were also closely involved in the development of some key features such as the real-time predistortion filters.

When we first got the HDAWG it was not yet in the shape it is in now. My first task was to hook it up to our setup. This may seem rather simple, but a lot of the basics were still missing, for instance there was no driver for our Python framework. Even when everything was done right, there were often bugs such as parameters that would return nonsensical values when read out, or output voltages that did not correspond to what was indicated by the instrument. After some discussions with ZI's software team, a feature was added to the ZI Python API that allows us to auto-generate these drivers based on the API itself, including the documentation for each parameter. This is very useful when new features are added as we have effectively eliminated the driver writing.

Tell us about your worst experiences with the prototype?

Adriaan: My worst experience has to be what we internally call the "staircase test" but a particular mode dependent rounding error in waveforms is a close second. In our experiments, we use the HDAWG by triggering specific predefined waveforms using a codeword trigger send using a digital input/output (DIO) signal. To test the synchronization of this DIO protocol, we would provide triggers to generate a staircase pattern of waveforms. We quickly found that the timings of this protocol need to be calibrated to ensure the right waveforms were played. The problem was that not only was the initial calibration protocol not very reliable, requiring a lot of restarts and other hacks to get it to work, it was also possible for the staircase to look fine but only glitch once every few minutes. The last part especially made it very frustrating to use the HDAWG in experiments. Since then, a new DIO calibration routine has been implemented that addresses this problem.

What was your experience of the collaboration with our R&D team?

Adriaan: I am very positive about our collaboration with the R&D team, both for immediate support as well as their expertise in developing new features. Besides our bi-weekly Skype meetings we can call in any moment and receive support using TeamViewer. It also helps that we know most of the R&D team having met them several times in the last couple of years.

What were the biggest measurement challenges that you faced and can now be solved with the HDAWG?

Adriaan: The biggest problem that the HDAWG solves for us is that of real-time distortion corrections. When we use the HDAWG to generate flux-pulses to perform two-qubit gates using transmon qubits, the waveforms are typically distorted on their way to the qubits. The traditional way of correcting this is by applying a predistortion filter to the waveforms being played. The problem with this is that these filters are history dependent, and as a consequence all pulses in a program need to be combined into one very long waveform that contains the predistortion correction for all the waveforms. Having these very long waveforms is undesirable for several reasons; besides the memory limitations and loading times, requiring a single very long waveform is incompatible with a flexible control scheme that relies on using codewords to trigger individual pulses. More fundamentally, requiring a very long waveform makes it almost impossible to perform real-time feedback.

By applying the pre-distortion corrections in real-time all these problems disappear, significantly reducing the complexity of these experiments.

Can you give us an idea about your experimental setup where you use the HDAWG?

Adriaan: We perform experiments on superconducting transmon qubits. Single qubit gates are performed using microwave pulses generated by an HDAWG, these pulses are then routed to the right qubit using a Vector Switch Matrix that allows us to use the same primitive pulses for same frequency qubits. Two-qubit gates are performed using flux pulses generated by another HDAWG unit. Readout is performed using multiple UHFQAs. All of these instruments are controlled using a central controller that provides codeword based triggers that determine what operation is performed at what point in time.

Interview: Niels Bultink (UHFQA Pioneer)

Where do you see the biggest value in working with the UHFQA?

Niels: The UHFQA is one of the first commercial solutions for multiplexed qubit readout. Besides, the concept of combining pulse generation and data acquisition into one instrument has great advantages in terms of synchronization.

What was your own experience of the collaboration with our R&D team?

Niels: The relation with the ZI R&D team has always been very pleasurable. I remember one of the first meetings in Santa Fe, New Mexico three years ago where I met part of the R&D team. One of your guys had just had a serious bike accident, and was still walking on crouches, while I had just dislocated my shoulder when skiing. The both of us surely were the last two remaining in the bar to discuss technical matters and of course beyond that. I guess developing instruments together is as much understanding each other’s strengths, as it is being able to compensate for each other’s weakness.

What did the role of an early adopter of the UHFQA entail?

Niels: Beyond the many face-to-face meetings, the role of early adopter has meant a countless number of Skype meetings to debug the instrument (and sometimes other parts of the setup). Although this often meant experimental delays on our side and unforeseen time investments on ZI’s side, communication was always strong and pleasurable.

Can you give us an idea about your experimental setup where you use the UHFQA?

Niels: We’ve used up to three UHFQA units in a single setup to readout 17 superconducting qubits. We interface with the UHFQA with our all-digital FPGA-based controller from which we can order it to readout specific qubits. Measurement results are in turn sent back to the controller that then closes a fast feedback loop. In the near future it will also run an error decoder in real time for Surface Code error correction.

How did the UHFQA help you to publish your scientific results faster?

Niels: Developing and integrating new hardware is not necessarily the fastest way to boost your scientific output in the short run. It has however helped us to reduce the complexity that is exposed to the experimentalists. This is precisely the most important step to scale up your quantum computer in the long run.

***
The first results of the experiments Niels mentions in the interview are already published. Read more:

C. Bultink, B. Tarasinski, N. Haandbaek, S. Poletto, N. Haider, D. Michalak, A. Bruno, and L. DiCarlo, "General method for extracting the quantum efficiency of dispersive qubit readout in circuit QED" arXiv:1711.05336, November 2017

Introducing Jim Phillips, Application Scientist USA

Jim did his B.S. at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and his Ph.D. at Stanford University, both in physics. His thesis was on a search for fractional electric charge on levitated niobium spheres.

After a post-doc at Stanford, he moved to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA, where he had a long career in the conceptual and early technological development of futuristic space-based astronomical instruments and gravitational experiments. These included a 2 m interferometer capable of measuring the positions of stars to 5 microarcseconds, and a UV interferometer for imaging nearby stars.

He designed a test of the equivalence principle of gravity, to be conducted during a 20 minute research rocket flight, capable of improving over present best measurements by four orders of magnitude. He also invented the world’s most accurate laser distance gauge that measured a 1/4 m distance to an accuracy of 40 femtometers, the diameter of a uranium nucleus. Jim has been fascinated all his life by excellent instrumentation and is excited to join ZI.

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