20 December 2022
Riber deploys MBE technology for quantum computing materials development
Riber S.A. of Bezons, France – which manufactures molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) systems as well as evaporation sources – has further strengthened its development of quantum processor materials.
Through EPICENTRE – a joint laboratory established in June 2021 with the French National Centre for Scientific Research’s Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems (LAAS-CNRS) in Toulouse – Riber has started to deploy the technologies making it possible to build the core components of future-generation quantum computers. These are based on the physical phenomenon of quantum entanglement, which occurs when two elementary particles – two electrons or two photons – share identical parameters even though they are very far apart. This requires stringent conditions for their production environment, which must be ultra-pure, ultra-controlled and ultra-cold, with single-atom precision.
The technologies available to deliver these performance levels include MBE. That is why Riber is part of a joint quantum computers laboratory program to develop the technological components enabling them to be built.
To produce electrons or photons, it is possible to use quantum dots, developed and controlled using MBE. To transport them, superconductor metals can be used with ultra-precise (atomic scale) dimensions, within which the electrons flow undisrupted. MBE technology can deposit these superconducting materials in an ultra-pure environment with atomic-layer-controlled thickness.
These quantum dots and superconductors need to be perfectly insulated from their environment, which is achieved by depositing dedicated oxide materials.
The various stages for developing the quantum dots, superconductors and insulators require various deposition chambers which must have an ultra-high – or almost perfect – vacuum in order to avoid any contamination. Vacuum quality is part of the excellence provided by Riber’s technology for these MBE machines.
An MBE machine for quantum computers will therefore include several deposition chambers connected together by robots under ultra-high-vacuum conditions. It may include three to five chambers linked by two or three robots under ultra-high-vacuum conditions, controlled by software that manages the sample movements and material deposition process.
Because of the complexity of this type of equipment due to the number of chambers and the ultra-purity, ultra-control and ultra-cold performance levels, the technology has a market value of several million euros per machine, says Riber.
This is illustrated by the order worth several million euros (announced on 25 October) for research equipment, including several chambers and items of equipment, in order to provide a new European research laboratory with the flexibility and versatility of MBE to use materials for future quantum computer components.
“Quantum technology is very promising, but it still needs to overcome some significant development challenges to build specific chips,” comments Michel Picault, chairman of Riber’s executive board. “Riber’s MBE technology will make it possible to accelerate progress towards manufacturing quantum chips on a larger scale,” he adds. “Our joint laboratory with LAAS-CNRS will help us reach this higher level of technological maturity more quickly”.