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Superconducting integrated circuits incorporating Josephson junctions are an attractive candidate for scalable quantum information processing in the solid state. The strong nonlinearity of the Josephson effect enables one to tailor an anharmonic potential and thus to realize an artificial quantum two-level system (ldquoqubitrdquo) from a macroscopic superconducting circuit. Josephson qubits can be made to interact strongly and controllably, and it should be straightforward to fabricate circuits incorporating hundreds or even thousands of Josephson qubits using standard thin-film processing techniques. Work over the last several years has shown that qubit performance is limited by spurious coupling of the qubit to microscopic defect states in the materials that are used to implement the circuit. Here we discuss the materials origins of dissipation and dephasing in superconducting qubits. A deeper understanding of the underlying materials physics that governs decoherence in superconducting quantum circuits will guide the search for improved, low-noise materials and fuel continued progress in the field of superconducting quantum computing.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2009