In solid state materials Majorana fermions only appear to occur in what are known as topological superconductors – a new type of superconductor that is so new and special that it is hardly ever found in practice.
Quantum computers with topological superconductors should have very long coherence times.
"Our experimental results are consistent with topological superconductivity," says Floriana Lombardi, Professor at the Quantum Device Physics Laboratory at Chalmers.
To create their unconventional superconductor they started with what is called a topological insulator made of bismuth telluride, Be2Te3. A topological insulator is mainly just an insulator – in other words, it does not conduct current – but it conducts current in a very special way on the surface. The researchers have placed a layer of a conventional superconductor on top, in this case aluminium, which conducts current entirely without resistance at really low temperatures.