Coherent control of macroscopic quantum states in a single-Cooper-pair box
A nanometre-scale superconducting electrode connected to a reservoir via a Josephson junction constitutes an artificial two-level electronic system: a single-Cooper-pair box. The two levels consist of charge states (differing by 2e, where e is the electronic charge) that are coupled by tunnelling of Cooper pairs through the junction. Although the two-level system is macroscopic, containing a large number of electrons, the two charge states can be coherently superposed1, 2, 3, 4. The Cooper-pair box has therefore been suggested5, 6, 7 as a candidate for a quantum bit or 'qubit'—the basic component of a quantum computer. Here we report the observation of quantum oscillations in a single-Cooper-pair box. By applying a short voltage pulse via a gate electrode, we can control the coherent quantum state evolution: the pulse modifies the energies of the two charge states non-adiabatically, bringing them into resonance. The resulting state—a superposition of the two charge states—is detected by a tunnelling current through a probe junction. Our results demonstrate electrical coherent control of a qubit in a solid-state electronic device.