A new paper has more information from the team's experiments and contains a note that a retraction of the original paper will be done due to "technical errors."
Two physicists in the field say extra data Kouwenhoven’s group provided them after they questioned the 2018 results shows the team had originally excluded data points that undermined its news-making claims. “I don’t know for sure what was in their heads,” says Sergey Frolov, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, “but they skipped some data that contradicts directly what was in the paper. From the fuller data, there’s no doubt that there’s no Majorana.”Microsoft hoped to create scalable quantum computers based on Majorana particles, a novel approach not followed by competitors like Google, IBM, and Intel. After more than a decade of research, Microsoft still doesn't have a single qubit, whereas the other three firms have prototypes with around 50 qubits. That's still far from enough for practical quantum computers -- which will likely require thousands or even millions of qubits.
The 2018 paper claimed to show firmer evidence for Majorana particles than a 2012 study with more ambiguous results that nevertheless won fame for Kouwenhoven and his lab at Delft Technical University. That project was partly funded by Microsoft, and the company hired Kouwenhoven to work on Majoranas in 2016.