Have the scientists detected Majorana Fermions to take Quantum computing forward? What’s the crisis?

Lalit Koundaal

Have the scientists detected Majorana Fermions to take Quantum computing forward? What’s the crisis?

Before moving on to our main topic, lets understand what is MAJORANA FERMIONS??

In particle physics, fermions are a class of elementary particles that includes electrons, protons, neutrons, and quarks, all of which make up the building blocks of matter. For the most part, these particles are considered Dirac fermions, after the English physicist Paul Dirac, who first predicted that all fermionic fundamental particles should have a counterpart, somewhere in the universe, in the form of an antiparticle — essentially, an identical twin of opposite charge.

Sergey Frolov, an associate professor of physics at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA has authored an article in Nature, on 12 April 2021 on Quantum Computing reproducibility crises drawing attention towards the Majorana Fermions.

This article appears to be more of a concern about not being able to experimentally prove the Majorana Fermions due to challenges the experimental setup poses, let alone finding the Majorana Fermion.

There is a fierce race going on to detect a new type of quantum particle that could power quantum computers.

Now, what is this quantum particle? It’s the Majorana Fermion, the particles which are in theory, have their antiparticles. All the tall claims of having detected Majorana Fermion have dashed down to the ground because none of the claims have been confirmed.

Who coined the name Majorana Fermion? An Italian physicist Ettore Majorana predicted somewhere in 1937 these particles. This prediction of Majorana particles had created the excitement of the highest level.

The properties of Majorana Fermion-

Let’s have a look at the properties- 

·      Neutrino could be a Majorana Fermion, with Majorana Mass.

·      Majorana Fermion is essential for super-symmetry.

·      Majorana Fermion could arise as quasi-particles of topological states

       of quantum matter.

·      Majorana Fermion could be used for topological quantum computing.

The experimental setup –

According to Annica Black-Schaffer who is a theoretical physicist at the Angstrom Laboratory in Uppsala University, she is trying to find what takes place in the topological superconductors based on Majorana Fermions.

If successful, creating the next generation of the super-fast computer (so-called quantum computers) will not seem far off.

According to her, “the problem with these systems is that they are extremely sensitive to interference, for instance, from heat or something vibrating, even a train passing by causes problem. You need an extremely controlled environment.”

The advantages of the quantum computer based on Majorana Fermion are that this would be more stable.

To create material with Majorana Fermion, the electrons have to behave in a very specific manner. First of all, the material has to be superconducting i.e the material that will conduct current without resistance, transporting electrons without losses.

Almost all the materials will become superconductors when they are cooled to very cold temperatures, close to absolute zero-273 degrees. This way Lead can become a superconductor, Aluminum & Niobium can also become a superconductor.

Handling such cold materials is complicated, so one of the aims of research is to find material that can become a superconductor at a higher temperature.

For the Majorana Fermion to appear, the right topology is also required. The topology refers to the structure of the materials.

Majorana Fermions still have not been proven in experiments. However, the experiments are utilizing this opportunity to discover a whole new state in the material. 

What are the reproducibility crises?

Here, the initial point of the argument whether the Majorana Fermions have been detected at all or not. Their extensive utilization for quantum computers is the next phase, which in fact, could be realized only when we have them (Majorana Fermions) detected.

So far, more than 100 groups have tried this and two dozen have reported Majorana manifestations. These usually appear in the form of a characteristic electronic signal.

The experiments published in “Science” in 2017 and “Nature” in 2018, were taken as evidence of Majorana. The researchers have not been able to confirm the findings of two separate papers claiming to have found Majorana regimes in nano-wires.

The author of the article in Nature feels that the key discoveries are yet to be made. Massive impetus is needed to improve the nano-wire materials, experimental technique, and data analysis.

This would pave the way for the development of Quantum Computers otherwise it’s the crises looming large!!

Sources-

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00954-8 power-superconductors/

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