Parametrically pumped superconducting circuits
Licentiate thesis, 2013

In this licentiate thesis, I present the design, fabrication, and characterization of superconducting parametric resonators, for use in quantum information processing. These devices are quarter-wavelength coplanar waveguide resonators (~5 GHz), terminated at one end by a non-linear inductance provided by a SQUID (superconducting quantum interference device). The SQUID acts as a flux-controlled boundary condition, which effectively changes the electrical length of the resonator. This enables the modulation of the resonant frequency by coupling microwave magnetic flux into the SQUID, using on-chip transmission lines. The modulation occurs on a timescale much faster than the photon loss out of the resonator. The non-linearity provides several different regimes for operating this device. I focused on the parametric regime, in which the non-linear element was being modulated (pumped) at or near twice the resonant frequency. This pumping can lead to amplification and frequency conversion of an incoming signal. It can also give rise to instabilities and self-oscillations "parametric oscillations" - that is, the generation of an intense electric field in the resonator (the creation of photons). Parametric oscillations set in when the pumping strength exceeds a threshold value, and also depends on the pump-frequency detuning from twice the resonance and on the static flux through the SQUID. I characterized the devices over a wide parameter range by doing homodyne detection of the reflected signal or of the emitted field oscillations. In particular, I investigated the damping and two leading nonlinearities, dominating in different operating regimes, which influence the dynamics of the parametric resonator. First, I extracted the Duffing nonlinearity by studying the line width of the resonator as a function of the input signal (without pumping the SQUID). Second, with high pump amplitude, I extracted the pump-induced nonlinearity by determining the threshold parameters (pump amplitude and detuning) for the onset of parametric oscillations; this nonlinearity leads to the generation of higher-order pump terms that complicate the system dynamics, but can be mitigated now that they have been understood. My results validate a recent theoretical model for the classical, non-linear dynamics of parametric resonance, and helps determine workable design parameters. Finally, I helped develop a linearized model $-$ the "pumpistor" - describing this device in terms of a flux-controlled impedance. This will be useful when designing more complex circuits. One goal of this work is to demonstrate single-shot measurements on superconducting qubits (quantum bits of information). We will use the parametric resonator as a threshold discriminator, associating the qubit's two energy eigenstates with the parametric oscillations either turning on or not. This would be a very useful device in the quantum engineer's toolbox when designing systems for quantum information processing and communication.


circuit quantum electrodynamics

Josephson junction

Superconducting circuits


parametric oscillators

quantum bit


quantum information

Opponent: Associate Prof. Göran Johansson


Philip Krantz

Chalmers, Microtechnology and Nanoscience (MC2), Quantum Device Physics

Areas of Advance

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (2010-2017)

Subject Categories

Nano Technology

Condensed Matter Physics


Opponent: Associate Prof. Göran Johansson

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