August 11, 2014

Beyond Six Nines: Ultra-enriched Silicon Paves the Road to Quantum Computing

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Using a relatively straightforward technique, a team of NIST researchers has created what may be the most highly enriched silicon currently being produced. The material is more than 99.9999% pure silicon-28 (28Si), with less than 1 part per million (ppm) of the problematic isotope silicon-29 (29Si). Many quantum computing schemes require isotopically pure silicon, for example to act as a substrate in which qubits – the quantum bits that store information – are embedded. In reaching "five nines" (99.9998%) last year and better than "six nines" this year*, the NIST team has surpassed its own enrichment goals.