Quantinuum demonstrates the first creation and manipulation of non-Abelian anyons

May 9, 2023

For more than two decades, there has been a general consensus among physicists pursuing the development of universal, fault-tolerant quantum computers that non-Abelian topological states would offer a promising path to success, if the states could ever be created.

These states host exotic quasi-particles—called anyons—that allow the storage of quantum information in their internal states which can only be changed by "braiding" them around each other in spacetime. Small perturbations in the trajectory of these braids would then leave the topology of the braid unchanged, making this paradigm inherently robust. It is as if they are ‘deaf’ to the noise of a system.

The problem however, is that non-Abelian anyons have never yet been detected, much less controlled. 

Until now.

Now, Quantinuum scientists, in collaboration with researchers from Harvard University and Caltech, have turned years of theory regarding topological states into reality, using the unique capabilities of the new H2 trapped-ion processor to create and control non-Abelian anyons. Using a shallow adaptive circuit on the H2, the research team prepared a non-Abelian quantum state on 27 qubits with a fidelity per site exceeding 98.4%.

This demonstration hinges on crucial advances in theory and experiment. On the theory side, Dr. Ruben Verresen, Prof. Ashvin Vishwanath (Harvard) and Dr. Nathanan Tantivasadakarn (Caltech) have shown how to use mid-circuit measurement to significantly simplify the route towards this kind of non-Abelian state. On the experimental side, the increased qubit capacity of the H2 system allows for sufficient complexity to create collective non-Abelian particles, while keeping the extremely low gate and mid-circuit measurement errors of previous generations.

The achievement has set the stage for an accelerated path to fault-tolerant quantum computing while also paving the way for new fields of research within condensed matter physics and high-energy physics.

The paper documenting the research, "Creation of Non-Abelian Topological Order and Anyons on a Trapped-Ion Processor," is posted on arXiv. This research was one of several papers published at the launch of H2, the next generation in Quantinuum's H-Series quantum computer, Powered by Honeywell.  

Advancing the Hardware Roadmap  

Quantinuum has been advancing this area of research in “stealth mode” for some considerable time.  

Ilyas Khan, Quantinuum’s Chief Product Officer said "I recall vividly discussing topological quantum computing with Henrik 7 years ago during a long hot summer when devices such as our H2 processor were hard to even dream about. This research represents a milestone that benefits the industry as a whole and yet again demonstrates our ability to not only be world leaders today but also long into the future.”

"Topological order is our best shot at creating a quantum computer with very low error rates," Henrik said. "We need to be able to operate on the system while keeping it protected from the environment," he said. "Topological order can offer that protection. This research demonstrates that the more exotic kind of topological state, the non-Abelian kind, can be created with today's devices on-demand and with high fidelity. One of next steps will be to demonstrate stability by repetitive error-correction, utilizing the same ingredients used to prepare the state in the first place."

According to Tony Uttley, President and COO of Quantinuum, this advance represents a breakaway moment for Quantinuum.  

"We've reached a point with our technology that we can build a quantum computer on top of a quantum computer," Tony said. "These non-Abelian topological qubits can layer on top of physical qubits without changing how our quantum computer operates. That accomplishment will accelerate our work on the path to fault-tolerant quantum computing.

Kaniah Konkoly-Thege

Kaniah is Chief Legal Counsel and SVP of Government Relations for Quantinuum. In her previous role, she served as General Counsel, Honeywell Quantum Solutions. Prior to Honeywell, she was General Counsel, Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies, LLC, and Senior Attorney, U.S. Department of Energy. She was Lead Counsel before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, the Merit Systems Protection Board, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Kaniah holds a J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law and B.A., International Relations and Spanish from the College of William and Mary.

Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller is Chief Information Officer for Quantinuum. In his previous role, he served as CIO for Honeywell Quantum Solutions and led a cross-functional team responsible for Information Technology, Cybersecurity, and Physical Security. For Honeywell, Jeff has held numerous management and executive roles in Information Technology, Security, Integrated Supply Chain and Program Management. Jeff holds a B.S., Computer Science, University of Arizona. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, attaining the rank of Commander.

Matthew Bohne

Matthew Bohne is the Vice President & Chief Product Security Officer for Honeywell Corporation. He is a passionate cybersecurity leader and executive with a proven track record of building and leading cybersecurity organizations securing energy, industrial, buildings, nuclear, pharmaceutical, and consumer sectors. He is a sought-after expert with deep experience in DevSecOps, critical infrastructure, software engineering, secure SDLC, supply chain security, privacy, and risk management.

Todd Moore

Todd Moore is the Global Vice President of Data Encryption Products at Thales. He is responsible for setting the business line and go to market strategies for an industry leading cybersecurity business. He routinely helps enterprises build solutions for a wide range of complex data security problems and use cases. Todd holds several management and technical degrees from the University of Virginia, Rochester Institute of Technology, Cornell University and Ithaca College. He is active in his community, loves to travel and spends much of his free time supporting his family in pursuing their various passions.

John Davis

Retired U.S. Army Major General John Davis is the Vice President, Public Sector for Palo Alto Networks, where he is responsible for expanding cybersecurity initiatives and global policy for the international public sector and assisting governments around the world to prevent successful cyber breaches. Prior to joining Palo Alto Networks, John served as the Senior Military Advisor for Cyber to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and served as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy.  Prior to this assignment, he served in multiple leadership positions in special operations, cyber, and information operations.