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Epitaxy of advanced nanowire quantum devices

01:19 EDT 24 Aug 2017 | Nature Publishing

Semiconductor nanowires are ideal for realizing various low-dimensional quantum devices. In particular, topological phases of matter hosting non-Abelian quasiparticles (such as anyons) can emerge when a semiconductor nanowire with strong spin–orbit coupling is brought into contact with a superconductor. To exploit the potential of non-Abelian anyons—which are key elements of topological quantum computing—fully, they need to be exchanged in a well-controlled braiding operation. Essential hardware for braiding is a network of crystalline nanowires coupled to superconducting islands. Here we demonstrate a technique for generic bottom-up synthesis of complex quantum devices with a special focus on nanowire networks with a predefined number of superconducting islands. Structural analysis confirms the high crystalline quality of the nanowire junctions, as well as an epitaxial superconductor–semiconductor interface. Quantum transport measurements of nanowire ‘hashtags’ reveal Aharonov–Bohm and weak-antilocalization effects, indicating a phase-coherent system with strong spin–orbit coupling. In addition, a proximity-induced hard superconducting gap (with vanishing sub-gap conductance) is demonstrated in these hybrid superconductor–semiconductor nanowires, highlighting the successful materials development necessary for a first braiding experiment. Our approach opens up new avenues for the realization of epitaxial three-dimensional quantum architectures which have the potential to become key components of various quantum devices.

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