There is a huge race to develop quantum computers for their enormous potential applications. Theory predicts that they can perform certain algorithms, such as factoring numbers or search algorithms, much faster than classical computers. Quantum computers would not only revolutionize informatics but would impact many areas of life, for example economics and communication, as well. Now a team of scientists at Fudan University led by Donglai Feng and Tong Zhang, in collaboration with the group of Zhongxian Zhao and Xiaoli Dong at the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have made a big step towards quantum computers. For the first time they have measured the theoretically predicted value for the conductance of Majorana zero modes (MZM) – potential building blocks of a quantum computer – inside the cores of the vortices formed by a superconductor’s current.
Zeroing in on Majorana modes
MZMs are zero-energy excitations in a topological superconductor, a material where the surface states differ from the bulk. They are their own antiparticles: if two of them meet, both of them disappear leaving behind only energy. This special property makes them ideal for topological quantum computing.