Quantum computing’s reproducibility crisis: Majorana fermions

d41586 021 00954 8 19023522
Experiments to find Majorana signals are performed by loading a nanowire into a dilution refrigerator capable of cooling it down to close to absolute zero.Credit: HGA Architects and Engineers A shadow has fallen over the race to detect a new type of quantum particle, the Majorana fermion, that could power quantum computers. As someone who works in this area, I’ve become concerned that, after a series of false starts, a significant fraction of the Majorana field is fooling itself. Several key experiments claiming to have detected Majorana particles, initially considered as breakthroughs, have not been confirmed. One recent case ended in a high-profile retraction from Nature (see Nature 591, 354–355; 2021), which I initiated with my colleague Vincent Mourik, a physicist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. We raised...

Evidence of elusive Majorana particle dies — but computing hope lives on

d41586 021 00612 z 18946990
A false-colour electron microscope image from the now-retracted paper, showing a nanowire (green) used to try and create Majorana fermions.Credit: H. Zhang et al./Nature A study that was once trumpeted as evidence for the existence of an exotic quantum state that could revolutionize computing has turned out to be anything but. A 2018 Nature paper1, based on work led by researchers at a Microsoft laboratory in the Netherlands, has now been officially retracted2 owing to what the authors call “insufficient scientific rigour” in the original data analysis.The retraction is a setback for this approach to quantum computing, but scientists say it should still be possible to create and study the exotic states, known as Majorana fermions, that were the subject of the research. And researchers at Microsoft and elsewhere are still optimistic about...