Tunable inductive coupling of superconducting qubits in the strongly nonlinear regime


For a variety of superconducting qubits, tunable interactions are achieved through mutual inductive coupling to a coupler circuit containing a nonlinear Josephson element. In this paper, we derive the general interaction mediated by such a circuit under the Born-Oppenheimer approximation. This interaction naturally decomposes into a classical part, with origin in the classical circuit equations, and a quantum part, associated with the coupler's zero-point energy. Our result is nonperturbative in the qubit-coupler coupling strengths and in the coupler nonlinearity. This can lead to significant departures from previous, linear theories for the interqubit coupling, including nonstoquastic and many-body interactions. Our analysis provides explicit and efficiently computable series for any term in the interaction Hamiltonian and can be applied to any superconducting qubit type. We conclude with a numerical investigation of our theory using a case study of two coupled flux qubits, and in particular study the regime of validity of the Born-Oppenheimer approximation.