Characterization of Josephson Devices for Use in Quantum Computation

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This thesis examines Josephson tunnel junctions as candidate qubits for quantum computation. A large area current-biased junction, known as a phase qubit, uses the two lowest energy levels in a tilted washboard potential as the qubit states |0> and |1>. I performed experiments with 10 x 10 um^2 Nb/AlOx/Nb qubit junctions, with critical currents of roughly 30 uA. The state of a device was initialized by cooling below 50 mK in a dilution refrigerator. In order for quantum mechanical superpositions to be long-lived, it is necessary to isolate the junction from noisy bias leads that originate at room temperature. I studied two types of isolation: an LC filter, and a broadband scheme that used an auxiliary junction, resulting in a dc SQUID.

One of the main goals of this work was to determine how well a simple Hamiltonian, derived assuming just a few lumped elements, describes the observed behavior of a macroscopic Josephson device, including coherent dynamics such as Rabi oscillations. I did this by comparing results to the expected behavior of ideal two-level systems and with more detailed master equation and density matrix simulations.

I performed state manipulation by applying dc bias currents and resonant microwave currents, and through temperature control. The tunneling escape rate of the junction from the states |0> and |1> (zero voltage) to the running state (finite voltage) depends on the occupation probability of the energy levels and served as state readout.

Experiments to measure the relaxation time T1 between |1> and |0> were performed by examining the dependence of the escape rate with temperature, yielding a maximum T1 = 15 ns. Measuring the decay to the ground state after applying a microwave pulse revealed at least two time constants, one of about 10 ns and another as long as 50 ns. The spectroscopic coherence time T2* was estimated to be roughly 5 ns by measuring resonance widths and the decay envelope of coherent Rabi oscillations was found to have a time constant T' = 10 ns over a wide range of conditions.