Letter | Published:

Coherent suppression of electromagnetic dissipation due to superconducting quasiparticles

Nature volume 508, pages 369372 (17 April 2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

Owing to the low-loss propagation of electromagnetic signals in superconductors, Josephson junctions constitute ideal building blocks for quantum memories, amplifiers, detectors and high-speed processing units, operating over a wide band of microwave frequencies. Nevertheless, although transport in superconducting wires is perfectly lossless for direct current, transport of radio-frequency signals can be dissipative in the presence of quasiparticle excitations above the superconducting gap1. Moreover, the exact mechanism of this dissipation in Josephson junctions has never been fully resolved experimentally. In particular, Josephson’s key theoretical prediction that quasiparticle dissipation should vanish in transport through a junction when the phase difference across the junction is π (ref. 2) has never been observed3. This subtle effect can be understood as resulting from the destructive interference of two separate dissipative channels involving electron-like and hole-like quasiparticles. Here we report the experimental observation of this quantum coherent suppression of quasiparticle dissipation across a Josephson junction. As the average phase bias across the junction is swept through π, we measure an increase of more than one order of magnitude in the energy relaxation time of a superconducting artificial atom. This striking suppression of dissipation, despite the presence of lossy quasiparticle excitations above the superconducting gap, provides a powerful tool for minimizing decoherence in quantum electronic systems and could be directly exploited in quantum information experiments with superconducting quantum bits.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge discussions with L. Frunzio, A. Kamal, N. Masluk and U. Vool. Facilities use was supported by YINQE and NSF MRSEC DMR 1119826. This research was supported by IARPA under grant no. W911NF-09-1-0369, ARO under grant no. W911NF-09-1-0514, the NSF under grants nos DMR-1006060 and DMR-0653377, DOE contract no. DE-FG02-08ER46482 (L.I.G.), and the EU under REA grant agreement CIG-618258 (G.C.).

Author information

Author notes

    • Ioan M. Pop
    •  & Kurtis Geerlings

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Department of Applied Physics, Yale University, 15 Prospect Street, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA

    • Ioan M. Pop
    • , Kurtis Geerlings
    • , Gianluigi Catelani
    • , Robert J. Schoelkopf
    • , Leonid I. Glazman
    •  & Michel H. Devoret
  2. Forschungszentrum Jülich, Peter Grünberg Institut (PGI-2), 52425 Jülich, Germany

    • Gianluigi Catelani

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Contributions

I.M.P. and K.G. performed the experiment and analysed the data, under the guidance of M.H.D. Theoretical support was provided by G.C. and L.I.G. The experimental design was proposed by I.M.P., K.G., R.J.S. and M.H.D. I.M.P. and M.H.D. led the writing of the manuscript. All authors provided suggestions for the experiment, discussed the results and contributed to the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ioan M. Pop.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13017

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