Onset of transmon ionization in microwave single-photon detection

Yuki Nojiri, Kedar E. Honasoge, Achim Marx, Kirill G. Fedorov, Rudolf Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By strongly driving a transmon-resonator system, the transmon qubit may eventually escape from its cosine-shaped potential. This process is called transmon ionization (TI) and known to be detrimental to the qubit coherence and operation. In this work we investigate the onset of TI in an irreversible, parametrically driven, frequency conversion process in a system consisting of a superconducting three-dimensional cavity coupled to a fixed-frequency transmon qubit. Above a critical pump power we find a sudden increase in the transmon population. Using Rényi entropy, Floquet modes, and Husimi Q functions, we infer that this abrupt change can be attributed to a quantum-to-classical phase transition. Furthermore, in the context of the single-photon detection, we measure a TI-uncorrected detection efficiency of up to 86% and estimate a TI-corrected value of up to 78% by exploiting the irreversible frequency conversion. Our numerical simulations suggest that increasing the detuning between the pump and qubit frequencies and increasing the qubit anharmonicity can suppress the TI impact. Our findings highlight the general importance of the TI process when operating coupled qubit-cavity systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number174312
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1 May 2024


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