James R. Wootton


Department of Physics
University of Basel
Klingelbergstrasse 82
CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland

email:view address

tel: +41 61 207 36 94

Research Interests


Show all abstracts.

1.  A repetition code of 15 qubits
James R. Wootton and Daniel Loss.
arXiv:1709.00990 (2017)

The repetition code is an important primitive for the techniques of quantum error correction. Here we implement repetition codes of at most 15 qubits on the 16 qubit \emph{ibmqx3} device. Each experiment is run for a single round of syndrome measurements, achieved using the standard quantum technique of using ancilla qubits and controlled operations. The size of the final syndrome is small enough to allow for lookup table decoding using experimentally obtained data. The results show strong evidence of error correction, and also give insight into the nature of noise in the device.

2.  A proposal for a minimal surface code experiment
James R. Wootton, Andreas Peter, Janos R. Winkler, and Daniel Loss.
Phys. Rev. A 96, 032338 (2017)

Current quantum technology is approaching the system sizes and fidelities required for quantum error correction. It is therefore important to determine exactly what is needed for proof-of-principle experiments, which will be the first major step towards fault-tolerant quantum computation. Here we propose a surface code based experiment that is the smallest, both in terms of code size and circuit depth, that would allow errors to be detected and corrected for both the X and Z basis of a qubit. This requires 17 physical qubits initially prepared in a product state, on which 16 two-qubit entangling gates are applied before a final measurement of all qubits. A platform agnostic error model is applied to give some idea of the noise levels required for success. It is found that a true demonstration of quantum error correction will require fidelities for the preparation and measurement of qubits and the entangling gates to be above 99%.

3.  Poking holes and cutting corners to achieve Clifford gates with the surface code
Ben Brown, Katharina Laubscher, Markus Kesselring, and James R. Wootton.
Phys. Rev. X 7, 021029 (2017)

The surface code is currently the leading proposal to achieve fault-tolerant quantum computation. Among its strengths are the plethora of known ways in which fault-tolerant Clifford operations can be performed, namely, by deforming the topology of the surface, by the fusion and splitting of codes and even by braiding engineered Majorana modes using twist defects. Here we present a unified framework to describe these methods, which can be used to better compare different schemes, and to facilitate the design of hybrid schemes. Our unification includes the identification of twist defects with the corners of the planar code. This identification enables us to perform single-qubit Clifford gates by exchanging the corners of the planar code via code deformation. We analyse ways in which different schemes can be combined, and propose a new logical encoding. We also show how all of the Clifford gates can be implemented with the planar code without loss of distance using code deformations, thus offering an attractive alternative to ancilla-mediated schemes to complete the Clifford group with lattice surgery.

4.  Demonstrating non-Abelian braiding of surface code defects in a five qubit experiment
James R. Wootton
Quantum Science and Technology, Volume 2, Number 1 (2017)

Currently, the mainstream approach to quantum computing is through surface codes. One way to store and manipulate quantum information with these to create defects in the codes which can be moved and used as if they were particles. Specifically, they simulate the behaviour of exotic particles known as Majoranas, which are a kind of non-Abelian anyon. By exchanging these particles, important gates for quantum computation can be implemented. Here we investigate the simplest possible exchange operation for two surface code Majoranas. This is found to act non-trivially on only five qubits. The system is then truncated to these five qubits, so that the exchange process can be run on the IBM 5Q processor. The results demonstrate the expected effect of the exchange. This paper has been written in a style that should hopefully be accessible to both professional and amateur scientists.

5.  Conformal energy currents on the edge of a topological superconductor
Chris Self, Jiannis K. Pachos, James. R Wootton, and Sofyan Iblisdir.
Phys. Rev. B 95, 115141 (2017)

The boundary of a 2D topological superconductor can be modeled by a conformal field theory. Here we demonstrate the behaviors of this high level description emerging from a microscopic model at finite temperatures. To achieve that, we analyze the low energy sector of Kitaev's honeycomb lattice model and probe its energy current. We observe that the scaling of the energy current with temperature reveals the central charge of the conformal field theory, which is in agreement with the Chern number of the bulk. Importantly, these currents can discriminate between distinct topological phases at finite temperatures. We assess the resilience of this measurement of the central charge under coupling disorder, bulk dimerisation and defects at the boundary, thus establishing it as a favorable means of experimentally probing topological superconductors.

6.  Continuous error correction for Ising anyons
Adrian Hutter and James Wootton.
Phys. Rev. A 93, 042327 (2016)

Quantum gates in topological quantum computation are performed by braiding non-Abelian anyons. These braiding processes can presumably be performed with very low error rates. However, to make a topological quantum computation architecture truly scalable, even rare errors need to be corrected. Error correction for non-Abelian anyons is complicated by the fact that it needs to be performed on a continuous basis and further errors may occur while we are correcting existing ones. Here, we provide the first study of this problem and prove its feasibility, establishing non-Abelian anyons as a viable platform for scalable quantum computation. We thereby focus on Ising anyons as the most prominent example of non-Abelian anyons and show that for these a finite error rate can indeed be corrected continuously. There is a threshold error rate p_c>0 such that for all error rates p
7.  Quantum Memories at Finite Temperature
Benjamin J. Brown, Daniel Loss, Jiannis Pachos, Chris Self, and James R. Wootton.
Rev. Mod. Phys. 88, 045005 (2016)

To use quantum systems for technological applications we first need to preserve their coherence for macroscopic timescales, even at finite temperature. Quantum error correction has made it possible to actively correct errors that affect a quantum memory. An attractive scenario is the construction of passive storage of quantum information with minimal active support. Indeed, passive protection is the basis of robust and scalable classical technology, physically realized in the form of the transistor and the ferromagnetic hard disk. The discovery of an analogous quantum system is a challenging open problem, plagued with a variety of no-go theorems. Several approaches have been devised to overcome these theorems by taking advantage of their loopholes. Here we review the state-of-the-art developments in this field in an informative and pedagogical way. We give the main principles of self-correcting quantum memories and we analyze several milestone examples from the literature of two-, three- and higher-dimensional quantum memories.

8.  Active error correction for Abelian and non-Abelian anyons
James R. Wootton and Adrian Hutter.
Phys. Rev. A 93, 022318 (2016)

We consider a class of decoding algorithms that are applicable to error correction for both Abelian and non-Abelian anyons. This class includes multiple algorithms that have recently attracted attention, including the Bravyi-Haah RG decoder. They are applied to both the problem of single shot error correction (with perfect syndrome measurements) and that of active error correction (with noisy syndrome measurements). For Abelian models we provide a threshold proof in both cases, showing that there is a finite noise threshold under which errors can be arbitrarily suppressed when any decoder in this class is used. For non-Abelian models such a proof is found for the single shot case. The means by which decoding may be performed for active error correction of non-Abelian anyons is studied in detail. Differences with the Abelian case are discussed.

9.  Parafermions in a Kagome lattice of qubits for topological quantum computation
Adrian Hutter, James R. Wootton, and Daniel Loss.
Phys. Rev. X 5, 041040 (2015)

Engineering complex non-Abelian anyon models with simple physical systems is crucial for topological quantum computation. Unfortunately, the simplest systems are typically restricted to Majorana zero modes (Ising anyons). Here we go beyond this barrier, showing that the ℤ4 parafermion model of non-Abelian anyons can be realized on a qubit lattice. Our system additionally contains the Abelian D(ℤ4) anyons as low-energetic excitations. We show that braiding of these parafermions with each other and with the D(ℤ4) anyons allows the entire d=4 Clifford group to be generated. The error correction problem for our model is also studied in detail, guaranteeing fault-tolerance of the topological operations. Crucially, since the non-Abelian anyons are engineered through defect lines rather than as excitations, non-Abelian error correction is not required. Instead the error correction problem is performed on the underlying Abelian model, allowing high noise thresholds to be realized.

10.  A family of stabilizer codes for D(Z_2) anyons and Majorana modes
James R. Wootton
J. Phys. A: Math. Theor. 48 215302 (2015)

We study and generalize the class of qubit topological stabilizer codes that arise in the Abelian phase of the honeycomb lattice model. The resulting family of codes, which we call `matching codes' realize the same anyon model as the surface codes, and so may be similarly used in proposals for quantum computation. We show that these codes are particularly well suited to engineering twist defects that behave as Majorana modes. A proof of principle system that demonstrates the braiding properties of the Majoranas is discussed that requires only three qubits.

11.  Improved HDRG decoders for qudit and non-Abelian quantum error correction
Adrian Hutter, Daniel Loss, and James R. Wootton.
New J. Phys. 17, 035017 (2015)

12.  Error Thresholds for Abelian Quantum Double Models: Increasing the bit-flip Stability of Topological Quantum Memory
Ruben S. Andrist, James R. Wootton, and Helmut G. Katzgraber.
Phys. Rev. A 91, 042331 (2015)

13.  Decoding non-Abelian topological quantum memories
James R. Wootton, Jan Burri, Sofyan Iblisdir, and Daniel Loss.
Phys. Rev. X 4, 011051 (2014)

14.  A simple decoder for topological codes
James R. Wootton
Entropy 2015, 17(4), 1946-1957

15.  Enhanced thermal stability of the toric code through coupling to a bosonic bath
Fabio L. Pedrocchi, Adrian Hutter, James R. Wootton, and Daniel Loss.
Phys. Rev. A 88, 062313 (2013)

We propose and study a model of a quantum memory that features self-correcting properties and a lifetime growing arbitrarily with system size at non-zero temperature. This is achieved by locally coupling a 2D L x L toric code to a 3D bath of bosons hopping on a cubic lattice. When the stabilizer operators of the toric code are coupled to the displacement operator of the bosons, we solve the model exactly via a polaron transformation and show that the energy penalty to create anyons grows linearly with L. When the stabilizer operators of the toric code are coupled to the bosonic density operator, we use perturbation theory to show that the energy penalty for anyons scales with ln(L). For a given error model, these energy penalties lead to a lifetime of the stored quantum information growing respectively exponentially and polynomially with L. Furthermore, we show how to choose an appropriate coupling scheme in order to hinder the hopping of anyons (and not only their creation) with energy barriers that are of the same order as the anyon creation gaps. We argue that a toric code coupled to a 3D Heisenberg ferromagnet realizes our model in its low-energy sector. Finally, we discuss the delicate issue of the stability of topological order in the presence of perturbations. While we do not derive a rigorous proof of topological order, we present heuristic arguments suggesting that topological order remains intact when perturbative operators acting on the toric code spins are coupled to the bosonic environment.

16.  Novel Topological Phases and Self-Correcting Memories in Interacting Anyon Systems
James R. Wootton
Phys. Rev. A 88, 062312 (2013)

Recent studies have shown that topological models with interacting anyonic quasiparticles can be used as self-correcting quantum memories. Here we study the behaviour of these models at thermal equilibrium. It is found that the interactions allow topological order to exist at finite temperature, not only in an extension of the ground state phase but also in a novel form of topologically ordered phase. Both phases are found to support self-correction in all models considered, and the transition between them corresponds to a change in the scaling of memory lifetime with system size.

17.  An efficient Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm for the surface code
Adrian Hutter, James R. Wootton, and Daniel Loss.
Phys. Rev. A 89, 022326 (2014)

Minimum-weight perfect matching (MWPM) has been been the primary classical algorithm for error correction in the surface code, since it is of low runtime complexity and achieves relatively low logical error rates [Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 180501 (2012)]. A Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithm [Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 160503 (2012)] is able to achieve lower logical error rates and higher thresholds than MWPM, but requires a classical runtime complexity which is super-polynomial in L, the linear size of the code. In this work we present an MCMC algorithm that achieves significantly lower logical error rates than MWPM at the cost of a polynomially increased classical runtime complexity. For error rates p close to the threshold, our algorithm needs a runtime complexity which is increased by O(L^2) relative to MWPM in order to achieve a lower logical error rate. If p is below an L-dependent critical value, no increase in the runtime complexity is necessary any longer. For p->0, the logical error rate achieved by our algorithm is exponentially smaller (in L) than that of MWPM, without requiring an increased runtime complexity. Our algorithm allows for trade-offs between runtime and achieved logical error rates as well as for parallelization, and can be also used to correct in the case of imperfect stabilizer measurements.

18.  Quantum memories and error correction
James R. Wootton
Journal of Modern Optics, 59, 20 (2012)

Quantum states are inherently fragile, making their storage a major concern for many practical applications and experimental tests of quantum mechanics. The field of quantum memories is concerned with how this storage may be achieved, covering everything from the physical systems best suited to the task to the abstract methods that may be used to increase performance. This review concerns itself with the latter, giving an overview of error correction and self-correction, and how they may be used to achieve fault-tolerant quantum computation. The planar code is presented as a concrete example, both as a quantum memory and as a framework for quantum computation.

19.  Effective quantum memory Hamiltonian from local two-body interactions
Adrian Hutter, Fabio L. Pedrocchi, James R. Wootton, and Daniel Loss.
Phys. Rev. A 90, 012321 (2014)

We study a 2D toric code embedded in a 3D Heisenberg ferromagnet (FM) in a broken-symmetry state at finite temperature. Stabilizer operators of the toric code are locally coupled to individual spins of the FM. The effects of the low-energy modes of the FM lead to an energy penalty for anyons that grows linearly with $L$, the linear size of the toric code, and thus to a lifetime of the quantum memory growing exponentially with $L$. We study the backaction of the toric code onto the FM both analytically and with a Monte-Carlo simulation and show a tilting of the spins close to the code after a time $t_{r}$ independent of $L$. When $t>t_{r}$ two scenarios are conceivable. Either magnetic pulses are applied to the FM at constant time intervals $t_{r}$ in order to refresh the FM and thus maintain a $O(L)$ energy penalty for the anyons, or the spins of the FM reach the new equilibrium position and the chemical potential scales with $\ln(L)$ only. In both scenarios, this provides a stable quantum memory with strictly local bounded-strength interactions in three dimensions.

20.  Lifetime of topological quantum memories in thermal environment
Abbas Al-Shimary, James R. Wootton, and Jiannis K. Pachos.
New J. Phys. 15 025027 (2013)

Here we investigate the effect lattice geometry has on the lifetime of two-dimensional topological quantum memories. Initially, we introduce various lattice patterns and show how the error-tolerance against bit-flips and phase-flips depends on the structure of the underlying lattice. Subsequently, we investigate the dependence of the lifetime of the quantum memory on the structure of the underlying lattice when it is subject to a finite temperature. Importantly, we provide a simple effective formula for the lifetime of the memory in terms of the average degree of the lattice. Finally, we propose optimal geometries for the Josephson junction implementation of topological quantum memories.

21.  Self-correcting quantum memory with a boundary
Adrian Hutter, James R. Wootton, Beat Röthlisberger, and Daniel Loss.
Phys. Rev. A 86, 052340 (2012)

We study the two-dimensional toric code Hamiltonian with effective long-range interactions between its anyonic excitations induced by coupling the toric code to external fields. It has been shown that such interactions allow to increase the lifetime of the stored quantum information arbitrarily by making $L$, the linear size of the memory, larger [Phys. Rev. A 82 022305 (2010)]. We show that for these systems the choice of boundary conditions (open boundaries as opposed to periodic boundary conditions) is not a mere technicality; the influence of anyons produced at the boundaries becomes in fact dominant for large enough $L$. This influence can be both beneficial or detrimental. In particular, we study an effective Hamiltonian proposed in [Phys. Rev. B 83 115415 (2011)] that describes repulsion between anyons and anyon holes. For this system, we find a lifetime of the stored quantum information that grows exponentially in $L^2$ for both periodic and open boundary conditions, though the exponent in the latter case is found to be less favourable. However, $L$ is upper-bounded through the breakdown of the perturbative treatment of the underlying Hamiltonian.

22.  High threshold error correction for the surface code
James R. Wootton and Daniel Loss.
Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 160503 (2012)

An algorithm is presented for error correction in the surface code quantum memory. This is shown to correct depolarizing noise up to a threshold error rate of 18.5%, exceeding previous results and coming close to the upper bound of 18.9%. The time complexity of the algorithm is found to be polynomial with error suppression, allowing efficient error correction for codes of realistic sizes.

23.  A witness for topological order and stable quantum memories in abelian anyonic systems
James R. Wootton
J. Phys. A: Math. Theor. 45 395301 (2012)

We propose a novel parameter, the anyonic topological entropy, designed to detect the error correcting phase of a topological memory. Unlike similar quantities such as the topological entropy, the anyonic topological entropy is defined using the states of the anyon occupations. As such, though the parameter deals with phases and phase transitions that are quantum in nature, it can be calculated solely from classical probability distributions. In many cases, these calculations will be tractable using efficient classical algorithms. The parameter therefore provides a new avenue for efficient studies of anyonic systems.

24.  Incoherent dynamics in the toric code subject to disorder
Beat Röthlisberger, James R. Wootton, Robert M. Heath, Jiannis K. Pachos, and Daniel Loss.
Phys. Rev. A 85, 022313 (2012)

We numerically study the effects of two forms of quenched disorder on the anyons of the toric code. Firstly, a new class of codes based on random lattices of stabilizer operators is presented, and shown to be superior to the standard square lattice toric code for certain forms of biased noise. It is further argued that these codes are close to optimal, in that they tightly reach the upper bound of error thresholds beyond which no correctable CSS codes can exist. Additionally, we study the classical motion of anyons in toric codes with randomly distributed onsite potentials. In the presence of repulsive long-range interaction between the anyons, a surprising increase with disorder strength of the lifetime of encoded states is reported and explained by an entirely incoherent mechanism. Finally, the coherent transport of the anyons in the presence of both forms of disorder is investigated, and a significant suppression of the anyon motion is found.

25.  Long-distance spin-spin coupling via floating gates
Luka Trifunovic, Oliver Dial, Mircea Trif, James R. Wootton, Rediet Abebe, Amir Yacoby, and Daniel Loss.
Phys. Rev. X 2, 011006 (2012)

The electron spin is a natural two level system that allows a qubit to be encoded. When localized in a gate defined quantum dot, the electron spin provides a promising platform for a future functional quantum computer. The essential ingredient of any quantum computer is entanglement---between electron spin qubits---commonly achieved via the exchange interaction. Nevertheless, there is an immense challenge as to how to scale the system up to include many qubits. Here we propose a novel architecture of a large scale quantum computer based on a realization of long-distance quantum gates between electron spins localized in quantum dots. The crucial ingredients of such a long-distance coupling are floating metallic gates that mediate electrostatic coupling over large distances. We show, both analytically and numerically, that distant electron spins in an array of quantum dots can be coupled selectively, with coupling strengths that are larger than the electron spin decay and with switching times on the order of nanoseconds.

26.  Towards unambiguous calculation of the topological entropy for mixed states
James R. Wootton (University of Leeds)
J. Phys. A: Math. Theor. 45 215309 (2012)

The topological entanglement entropy is an important quantity, used to determine whether or not states are topologically ordered. However, it can give misleading results when long-range non-topological correlations are present. To solve this problem, we propose a modified topological entropy which allows topologically ordered states to be identified with greater confidence. This also provides a deeper understanding of the topological entropy, and strengthens the links between condensed matter and information theory.

27.  Bringing Order through Disorder: Localization of Errors in Topological Quantum Memories
James R. Wootton (University of Leeds) and Jiannis K. Pachos (University of Leeds).
Presented as a contributed talk at QIP 2011
Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 030503 (2011)

Anderson localization emerges in quantum systems when randomized parameters cause the exponential suppression of motion. Here we consider this phenomenon in topological models and establish its usefulness for protecting topologically encoded quantum information. For concreteness we employ the toric code. It is known that in the absence of a magnetic field this can tolerate a finite initial density of anyonic errors, but in the presence of a field anyonic quantum walks are induced and the tolerable density becomes zero. However, if the disorder inherent in the code is taken into account, we demonstrate that the induced localization allows the topological quantum memory to regain a finite critical anyon density and the memory to remain stable for arbitrarily long times. We anticipate that disorder inherent in any physical realization of topological systems will help to strengthen the fault tolerance of quantum memories.

28.  Engineering complex topological memories from simple Abelian models
James R. Wootton (University of Leeds), Ville Lahtinen (University of Leeds), Jiannis K. Pachos (University of Leeds), and Benoit Doucot (LPTHE, Paris).
Ann. Phys. 326, 2307 (2011)

In three spatial dimensions, particles are limited to either bosonic or fermionic statistics. Two-dimensional systems, on the other hand, can support anyonic quasiparticles exhibiting richer statistical behaviours. An exciting proposal for quantum computation is to employ anyonic statistics to manipulate information. Since such statistical evolutions depend only on topological characteristics, the resulting computation is intrinsically resilient to errors. So-called non-Abelian anyons are most promising for quantum computation, but their physical realization may prove to be complex. Abelian anyons, however, are easier to understand theoretically and realize experimentally. Here we show that complex topological memories inspired by non-Abelian anyons can be engineered in Abelian models. We explicitly demonstrate the control procedures for the encoding and manipulation of quantum information in specific lattice models that can be implemented in the laboratory. This bridges the gap between requirements for anyonic quantum computation and the potential of state-of-the-art technology.

29.  Universal quantum computation with a non-Abelian topological memory
James R. Wootton, Ville Lahtinen, and Jiannis K. Pachos.
LNCS 5906, 56-65 (2009)

An explicit lattice realization of a non-Abelian topological memory is presented. The correspondence between logical and physical states is seen directly by use of the stabilizer formalism. The resilience of the encoded states against errors is studied and compared to that of other memories. A set of non-topological operations are proposed to manipulate the encoded states, resulting in universal quantum computation. This work provides insight into the non-local encoding non-Abelian anyons provide at the microscopical level, with an operational characterization of the memories they provide.

30.  Universal Quantum Computation with Abelian Anyon Models
James R. Wootton and Jiannis K. Pachos.
ENTCS 270, 209-218 (2011)

We consider topological quantum memories for a general class of abelian anyon models defined on spin lattices. These are non-universal for quantum computation when restricting to topological operations alone, such as braiding and fusion. The effects of additional non-topological operations, such as spin measurements, are studied. These are shown to allow universal quantum computation, while still utilizing topological protection. Our work gives an insight into the relation between abelian models and their non-abelian counterparts.

31.  Non-abelian statistics from an abelian model
James R. Wootton, Ville Lahtinen, Zhenghan Wang, and Jiannis K. Pachos.
Phys. Rev. B 78, 161102(R) (2008)

It is well known that the abelian $Z_2$ anyonic model (toric code) can be realized on a highly entangled two-dimensional spin lattice, where the anyons are quasiparticles located at the endpoints of string-like concatenations of Pauli operators. Here we show that the same entangled states of the same lattice are capable of supporting the non-abelian Ising model, where the concatenated operators are elements of the Clifford group. The Ising anyons are shown to be essentially superpositions of the abelian toric code anyons, reproducing the required fusion, braiding and statistical properties. We propose a string framing and ancillary qubits to implement the non-trivial chirality of this model.