Degenerate and nondegenerate Josephson parametric oscillators for quantum information applications

University dissertation from Chalmers University of Technology

Abstract: Parametric oscillations are well studied phenomena, with applications in amplification, quantum optics, and quantum information processing. They can occur as a parameter of a system, such as the resonant frequency, is being modulated or “pumped” by an external field. A nonlinearity of the system can then transfer power from the pumping frequency to two frequencies called signal and idler. When the signal falls within a resonance, and when the pump amplitude exceeds an instability threshold, parametric oscillations occur. When signal and idler fall within the same resonance, the pumping is called degenerate.

Due to somewhat different implementations, in combination with rich nonlinear physics, the details of the parametric oscillations can differ in different systems. In this work, we expand on the research done on parametric oscillations using a superconducting microwave resonator with a tunable boundary condition. Previously, a degenerate Josephson parametric oscillator (JPO) has been demonstrated by modulation of this boundary condition at twice the resonator's resonant frequency. We further use the JPO to implement a novel read-out method for a superconducting qubit. Moreover, we demonstrate a different, nondegenerate regime of the JPO, which we denote the NJPO, by modulating the frequency at the sum of two resonant frequencies of a multimode resonator.

Both the JPO qubit read-out and the NJPO have applications within quantum information processing. The perhaps most promising platform for quantum information processing is represented by the circuit-QED architecture with superconducting resonators and artificial atoms, where the two lowest atomic levels represent the qubit. We make these circuits using lithographic techniques, and control and measure them at low temperature using microwaves. The qubit's state is fragile and difficult to read out with high fidelity. To this end, we have developed a method based on the JPO, in which the qubit state is mapped onto a zero-amplitude or a large-amplitude state of the JPO. We achieved a large contrast (185±15 photons), therefore eliminating the need for a following quantum-limited parametric amplifier. Our readout fidelity was 81.5 %, and by carefully modeling we can distinguish fidelity loss from the qubit and the readout, respectively. This analysis displays an actual readout fidelity of 98.7 %.

An alternative model for quantum computing is based on continuous variables, and uses harmonic oscillators instead of qubits. Entangled states, which can be used as quantum resources, can then be created, for example, by two-mode squeezing of the oscillator ground state. The state of the NJPO produces correlated oscillations in its two modes, which might be useful for continuous-variable quantum computing. In this work we fully characterize the classical properties of the NJPO, and show good quantitative agreement with a theoretical model.