Scepticism about Microsoft results
In March 2022, Microsoft published research results about the realisation of a special type of particle that might be used to make particularly robust quantum bits. Researchers at the University of Basel are now calling these results about so-called Majorana particles into doubt: through calculations they have shown that the findings can also be explained differently.
26 May 2023 | Oliver Morsch
In 1938 a genius suddenly vanished without a trace: after buying a ferry ticket from Palermo to Naples, the young Italian physicist Ettore Majorana seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth. Just a few months earlier he had postulated a highly unusual type of particle. These particles were supposed to be their own anti-particles and carry no electric charge.
In the last few years, among physicists there has been a renewed interest in these mysterious particles, which bear the name of their missing inventor (whose disappearance has not been explained to this day). The particles, it turns out, might possibly be used as particularly robust quantum bits in quantum computers.
The biggest obstacle in the construction of such computers, which promise unbelievable computing power, is decoherence – the fact, in other words, that disturbances from the environment can very quickly destroy the sensitive quantum states with which quantum computers perform calculations. If, however, one could use Majorana particles as quantum bits, that problem could solved instantly since they have a built-in immunity against decoherence because of their special properties.
In a study published in the scientific journal “Physical Review Letters”, researchers at the University of Basel have now dampened expectations of using Majorana particles for computation in the near future. The team led by Professor Jelena Klinovaja showed that results published by Microsoft in 2022, according to which Majorana particles had been detected in the labs of the company, may not hold water after all.