Non-Abelian Anyons and Topological Quantum Computation

Strongly Correlated Electrons | , Vol 80(1083)


Topological quantum computation has recently emerged as one of the most exciting approaches to constructing a fault-tolerant quantum computer. The proposal relies on the existence of topological states of matter whose quasiparticle excitations are neither bosons nor fermions, but are particles known as {it Non-Abelian anyons}, meaning that they obey {it non-Abelian braiding statistics}. Quantum information is stored in states with multiple quasiparticles, which have a topological degeneracy. The unitary gate operations which are necessary for quantum computation are carried out by braiding quasiparticles, and then measuring the multi-quasiparticle states. The fault-tolerance of a topological quantum computer arises from the non-local encoding of the states of the quasiparticles, which makes them immune to errors caused by local perturbations. To date, the only such topological states thought to have been found in nature are fractional quantum Hall states, most prominently the nu=5/2 state, although several other prospective candidates have been proposed in systems as disparate as ultra-cold atoms in optical lattices and thin film superconductors. In this review article, we describe current research in this field, focusing on the general theoretical concepts of non-Abelian statistics as it relates to topological quantum computation, on understanding non-Abelian quantum Hall states, on proposed experiments to detect non-Abelian anyons, and on proposed architectures for a topological quantum computer. We address both the mathematical underpinnings of topological quantum computation and the physics of the subject using the nu=5/2 fractional quantum Hall state as the archetype of a non-Abelian topological state enabling fault-tolerant quantum computation.