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Personalized drugs, pinpoint weather predictions, better batteries and super-secure encryption may all be realized through quantum computing, along with many other presently unreachable applications.

In parallel, another category of machines called superconducting computers promises to elevate conventional computing to the so-called exascale level, where they will deliver a formidable 1018 FLOPS of processing speed at only one tenth the power of present technology. However, both share a common attribute that must be accommodated on their journey from lab to fab — they can only function at ultra-low temperatures approaching absolute zero.

The Deepest of Freezes

Quantum computing machines are constructed of “quantum bits” called qubits, which leverage a phenomenon called superposition; unlike traditional data bits, qubits can simultaneously hold both one and zero values. Multiple qubits can also demonstrate marvelous interactions called entanglement. Using these quantum behaviors in concert, qubit-based systems can evaluate, in parallel, enormous numbers of potential solutions to complex problems. However, qubits are extremely sensitive to small amounts of thermal noise, so to maintain a stable state long enough to complete their calculation (“coherence”) they are kept at temperatures approaching absolute zero. For further efficiency, designers often leverage superconducting connections to build qubits into computing systems.

Classical supercomputers will still be needed for many computing tasks, but today these computers consume very high amounts of power from megawatts to gigawatts. New types of logic families, such as RQL (reciprocal quantum logic) and RSFQ (rapid single flux quantum) and others, leverage quantum effects and superconducting connections to perform the same classical computing functions but with extraordinary speed and efficiency. Here again, the key is to create an operating environment close to absolute zero. It’s projected that a conventional supercomputer consuming a megawatt could be replaced by a superconducting machine consuming only 10K watts.

What can Quantum Computing do for us?

  • Solve equations otherwise impossible or impractical to solve
  • Help optimize systems to provide greater efficiencies, and performances
  • Such challenges as finance, intelligence, drug design, utilities, artificial intelligence

Wafer Probing Goes Cryogenic

An intense effort is underway in research facilities around the world to develop the components that will move these new computing technologies out of the lab and into commercial production. One major challenge is to create test and measurement environments that mirror the extremely low temperatures at which these components will eventually operate. Wafer- and chip-level probing must be conducted to evaluate the new devices and circuits, verify operating parameters, and validate volume fabrication processes. Many of the test and measurement operations are similar to those for traditional semiconductors, only now these procedures must be executed at extremely low temperatures.

Adiabatic demagnetization refrigerator (ADR) cryostats

FormFactor’s ADR cryostat line has been optimized for flexibility and versatility. It aims to support ultra low temperature research by providing quick and affordable access to mK temperatures. Many customizable options make it easy to reconfigure to fit your needs, and a variety of ADR models are available to provide a range of sample volumes and cooling power.

These systems use a one- or two-stage ADR to reach temperatures as low as 30mK. An ADR operates by submitting a salt crystal to strong magnetic fields. In these different states, the salt crystal will either absorb or dump thermal energy. This is used to shuttle heat away from the sample stage achieving mK temperatures.

ADR cryostats are excellent complements to Dilution Refrigerators (DRs) due to rapid cooldown, ease of use, and solid-state reliability. One quantum application is to quickly pre-screen qubits and quantum processing units (QPUs) before their full DR test. To further expedite this process, FormFactor offers the PQ500, a unique socket that eliminates bonding and packaging requirements to contact dies directly.

HPD Model 106 ADR Cryostat
Model 106 ADR Cryostat

Dilution Refrigeration (DR) Systems

FormFactor DRs provide the ultra-low temperature environment, below 10 mK, required for superconducting qubits. These cryostats are used for test and measurement during qubit and quantum processing unit (QPU) development – and also as a critical element in quantum computer deployment. “Dry” (cryogen-free) with pushbutton control simplifies use and keeps operating costs low. Several DR models (XLF-600, and LF-600) are available to provide a range of cooling power and sample volumes. These are optimized for quantum computing, with high I/O capability, optical ports, magnetic shielding, and low-vibration design.

High-performance on-wafer probing

Our high-performance cryogenic probe stations for on-wafer and multi-chip measurements support a wide range of challenging applications, including IR-sensor test, radiometric test, DC and RF measurements at cryogenic temperatures.

The HPD IQ3000 is a high precision fully automated probe station for 150 mm, 200 mm or 300 mm substrates in a 4 K environment. To accelerate the realization of commercial quantum and superconducting computers, we provide chip developers with the tools they need to intelligently iterate on their designs.

HPD IQ3000

HPD IQ3000

Ultra Low Vibration Chip-scale Probe Station for Conducting High-Accuracy Measurements at True 4K Cryogenic Temperatures

Kilimanjaro 125 Cryogenic Probe Station
IQ2000 Cryogenic Probe Station

The HPD IQ2000 is a superior 4K solution to meet all your probing needs with an emphasis on ultra low vibration applications is a superior 4K solution to meet all your probing needs with an emphasis on ultra low vibration applications. This system employs a range of thermal isolation techniques to take full advantage of all the cooling power available. We have taken extra care to ensure all signals are well sunk before reaching your sample. All interfaces have been specially designed to block any radiation from disturbing your sample.

Rapid Access to Cryogenic Temperatures to Boost Quantum Research

Cryogenic systems are a major investment. Long waits for data can slow down development cycles and hinder production schedules. FormFactor’s cryogenic test and measurement services allow you to avoid the high upfront capital cost of a complete system, enable immediate access to cryogenic data, and ensure you are obtaining the data you need to advance your program.

At the HPD Cryogenic Test Lab in Boulder, Colorado, you can partner with FormFactor to collect the valuable cryogenic data you need. We will work with you to meet your unique test and measurement challenges:

• Screen for manufacturing defects at cryogenic temperatures to improve device sorting
• Statistically correlate room temperature data with cryogenic performance by obtaining high volume data at the wafer scale
• Pre-characterize Qubits prior to deployment to reduce QPU bring-up time
• Material characterization of superconducting devices
• Customers can collect high volume data with our Cryogenic 4 K Wafer Prober or qualify qubit devices near deployment conditions with our < 50 mK ADR Cryostats.