Accurate control of quantum systems requires a precise measurement of the parameters that govern the dynamics, including control fields and interactions with the environment. Parameters will drift in time and experiments interleave protocols that perform parameter estimation, with protocols that measure the dynamics of interest.
Researchers at Duke University have proposed setting aside some qubits, which they call spectator qubits, to be measured periodically during the computation, to act as probes of the changing experimental and environmental parameters.
By using control strategies that minimize the sensitivity of the qubits involved in the computation, they were able to acquire sufficient information from the spectator qubits to update their estimates of the parameters and improve their control.
As a result, they were able to increase the length of experiments where the dynamics of the data qubits were highly reliable. In particular, they simulated how spectator qubits can keep the error level of operations on data qubits below a 10−4 threshold in two scenarios involving coherent errors: a classical magnetic field gradient dynamically decoupled with sequences of two or four π-pulses, and laser beam instability detected via crosstalk with neighboring atoms in an ion trap. (npc Quantum Information)