The long spin coherence time and microelectronics compatibility of Si makes it an attractive material for realizing solid-state qubits. Unfortunately, the orbital (valley) degeneracy of the conduction band of bulk Si makes it difficult to isolate individual two-level spin-1/2 states, limiting their development. This degeneracy is lifted within Si quantum wells clad between Ge-Si alloy barrier layers, but the magnitude of the valley splittings achieved so far is small—of the order of 1 meV or less—degrading the fidelity of information stored within such a qubit. Here we combine an atomistic pseudopotential theory with a genetic search algorithm to optimize the structure of layered-Ge/Si-clad Si quantum wells to improve this splitting. We identify an optimal sequence of multiple Ge/Si barrier layers that more effectively isolates the electron ground state of a Si quantum well and increases the valley splitting by an order of magnitude, to ~9meV.
L. Zhang, J.W. Luo, A. Saraiva, B. Koiller, A. Zunger,"Genetic design of enhanced valley splitting towards a spin qubit in silicon," Nature Communications 4, 2396 (2013).(PDF)