The demand for electronics that operate at low temperatures is growing and becoming ever more important, especially for applications in the field of quantum computing technologies. This is the focus of the CONDOR project that was launched earlier this year. The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) in Dresden and the Max Planck Institute for Microstructure Physics (MSP) in Halle are collaborating on innovative spin-based memory and logic components that operate at low temperatures.

Electronics that operate at low temperatures are commonly referred to as cryogenic electronics. Their importance has increased significantly in recent years due to the interest in the development of quantum computing technologies that go beyond CMOS, as well as for use in other domains, such as space. In quantum technologies it is often necessary to cool the quantum bits, the qubits, to cryogenic temperatures in order to extend the time over which they can operate. Therefore, it is essential to develop electronic components that can operate at the same low temperatures to guarantee the proper performance of future quantum computing systems.

The Fraunhofer IPMS and the MSP have been working together since the beginning of this year on the project "CONDOR – Superconducting spintronic devices for cryogenic electronics." The cooperation program combines the excellent materials and device expertise and deep understanding of spin-based phenomena in Prof. Stuart Parkin's group at the MSP with the application-oriented research and infrastructure capabilities of the Fraunhofer IPMS. The novel cryogenic components to be developed in the three-year project will enable low-energy superconducting electronics for stand-alone superconducting computer systems as well as for integration with emerging quantum computer systems.

Prof. Dr. Parkin said, "CONDOR combines the expertise in spintronic and superconducting materials and devices at the Institute of MSP, with the logic, memory and 300 mm wafer-scale integration expertise at Fraunhofer IPMS." Dr. Benjamin Lilienthal-Uhlig of Fraunhofer IPMS added, "The Fraunhofer IPMS and the Max Planck Institute for MSP have already successfully collaborated on the RASCAL project, where novel spintronic memory devices operating at room temperature were developed. These results form an important part of the CONDOR project."

The CONDOR project aims to develop a novel superconducting switch that can be used in cryogenic logic and memory devices. The switch is formed from a narrow superconducting wire to which a gate voltage is applied. The project will first unravel the origin of the suppression of superconductivity in such nanowires by the gate voltage and, thereby, develop superconducting field-effect transistors in both lateral and vertical geometries that operate at CMOS-compatible voltages. Finally, these cryogenic transistors will be used both as logic elements and as switches for accessing magnetic memory elements to enable cryogenic non-volatile memories with low power consumption. The memory devices are magnetic tunnel junctions specially designed to operate at low temperatures. These novel cryogenic logic and memory devices will thereby enable cryogenic electronic chips using superconducting materials and phenomena. The final goal of the project is the realization of components based on low-energy superconducting electronics that can be used, at wafer scale, for autonomous superconducting computing systems, as well as for emerging quantum computing systems.