
Quantum computing is an emerging area within the information sciences revolving around the concept of quantum bits (qubits). A major obstacle is the extreme fragility of these qubits due to interactions with their environment that destroy their quantumness. This phenomenon, known as decoherence, is of fundamental interest1,2. There are many competing candidates for qubits, including superconducting circuits3, quantum optical cavities4, ultracold atoms5 and spin qubits6,7,8, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. When dealing with spin qubits, the strongest source of decoherence is the magnetic dipolar interaction9. To minimize it, spins are typically diluted in a diamagnetic matrix. For example, this dilution can be taken to the extreme of a single phosphorus atom in silicon6, whereas in molecular matrices a typical ratio is one magnetic molecule per 10,000 matrix molecules10. However, there is a fundamental contradiction between reducing decoherence by dilution and allowing quantum operations via the interaction between spin qubits. To resolve this contradiction, the design and engineering of quantum hardware can benefit from a ‘bottomup’ approach whereby the electronic structure of magnetic molecules is chemically tailored to give the desired physical behaviour. Here we present a way of enhancing coherence in solidstate molecular spin qubits without resorting to extreme dilution. It is based on the design of molecular structures with crystal field ground states possessing large tunnelling gaps that give rise to optimal operating points, or atomic clock transitions, at which the quantum spin dynamics become protected against dipolar decoherence. This approach is illustrated with a holmium molecular nanomagnet in which long coherence times (up to 8.4 microseconds at 5 kelvin) are obtained at unusually high concentrations. This finding opens new avenues for quantum computing based on molecular spin qubits.Quantum computing is an emerging area within the information sciences revolving around the concept of quantum bits (qubits). A major obstacle is the extreme fragility of these qubits due to interactions with their environment that destroy their quantumness. This phenomenon, known as decoherence, is of fundamental interest1,2. There are many competing candidates for qubits, including superconducting circuits3, quantum optical cavities4, ultracold atoms5 and spin qubits6,7,8, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. When dealing with spin qubits, the strongest source of decoherence is the magnetic dipolar interaction9. To minimize it, spins are typically diluted in a diamagnetic matrix. For example, this dilution can be taken to the extreme of a single phosphorus atom in silicon6, whereas in molecular matrices a typical ratio is one magnetic molecule per 10,000 matrix molecules10. However, there is a fundamental contradiction between reducing decoherence by dilution and allowing quantum operations via the interaction between spin qubits. To resolve this contradiction, the design and engineering of quantum hardware can benefit from a ‘bottomup’ approach whereby the electronic structure of magnetic molecules is chemically tailored to give the desired physical behaviour. Here we present a way of enhancing coherence in solidstate molecular spin qubits without resorting to extreme dilution. It is based on the design of molecular structures with crystal field ground states possessing large tunnelling gaps that give rise to optimal operating points, or atomic clock transitions, at which the quantum spin dynamics become protected against dipolar decoherence. This approach is illustrated with a holmium molecular nanomagnet in which long coherence times (up to 8.4 microseconds at 5 kelvin) are obtained at unusually high concentrations. This finding opens new avenues for quantum computing based on molecular spin qubits.
