Wiring the quantum computer of the future: A novel simple build with existing technology


Efficient quantum computing is expected to enable advancements that are impossible with classical computers. Scientists from Japan and Sydney have collaborated and proposed a novel two-dimensional design that can be constructed using existing integrated circuit technology. This design solves typical problems facing the current three-dimensional packaging for scaled-up quantum computers, bringing the future one step closer.

Quantum computing is increasingly becoming the focus of scientists in fields such as physics and chemistry, and industrialists in the pharmaceutical, airplane, and automobile industries. Globally, research labs at companies like Google and IBM are spending extensive resources on improving quantum computers, and with good reason. Quantum computers use the fundamentals of quantum mechanics to process significantly greater amounts of information much faster than classical computers. It is expected that when error-corrected and fault-tolerant quantum computation is achieved, scientific and technological advancement will occur at an unprecedented scale.

But building quantum computers for large-scale computation is proving to be a challenge in terms of their architecture. The basic units of a quantum computer are the “quantum bits” or “qubits.” These are typically atoms, ions, photons, subatomic particles such as electrons, or even larger elements that simultaneously exist in multiple states, making it possible to obtain several potential outcomes rapidly for large volumes of data. The theoretical requirement for quantum computers is that these are arranged in two-dimensional (2-D) arrays, where each qubit is both coupled with its nearest neighbor and connected to the necessary external control lines and devices. When the number of qubits in an array is increased, it becomes difficult to reach qubits in the interior of the array from the edge. The need to solve this problem has so far resulted in complex three-dimensional (3-D) wiring systems across multiple planes in which many wires intersect, making their construction a significant engineering challenge.

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Hot qubits break one of the biggest constraints to practical quantum computers


Most quantum computers being developed around the world will only work at fractions of a degree above absolute zero. That requires multi-million-dollar refrigeration and as soon as you plug them into conventional electronic circuits they’ll instantly overheat.

But now researchers led by Professor Andrew Dzurak at UNSW Sydney have addressed this problem.

“Our new results open a path from experimental devices to affordable quantum computers for real world business and government applications,” says Professor Dzurak.

The researchers’ proof-of-concept quantum processor unit cell, on a silicon chip, works at 1.5 Kelvin—15 times warmer than the main competing chip-based technology being developed by Google, IBM, and others, which uses superconducting qubits.

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Honeywell says it will soon launch the world’s most powerful quantum computer


“The best-kept secret in quantum computing.” That’s what Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) CEO Ilyas Khan called Honeywell‘s efforts in building the world’s most powerful quantum computer. In a race where most of the major players are vying for attention, Honeywell has quietly worked on its efforts for the last few years (and under strict NDA’s, it seems). But today, the company announced a major breakthrough that it claims will allow it to launch the world’s most powerful quantum computer within the next three months.

In addition, Honeywell also today announced that it has made strategic investments in CQC and Zapata Computing, both of which focus on the software side of quantum computing. The company has also partnered with JPMorgan Chase to develop quantum algorithms using Honeywell’s quantum computer. The company also recently announced a partnership with Microsoft.

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Inside the race to build the best quantum computer on Earth


IBM thinks quantum supremacy is not the milestone we should care about.

Google’s most advanced computer isn’t at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, nor anywhere in the febrile sprawl of Silicon Valley. It’s a few hours’ drive south in Santa Barbara, in a flat, soulless office park inhabited mostly by technology firms you’ve never heard of.

An open-plan office holds several dozen desks. There’s an indoor bicycle rack and designated “surfboard parking,” with boards resting on brackets that jut out from the wall. Wide double doors lead into a lab the size of a large classroom. There, amidst computer racks and jumbles of instrumentation, a handful of cylindrical vessels—each a little bigger than an oil drum—hang from vibration-damping rigs like enormous steel pupae.

On one of them, the outer vessel has been removed to expose a multi-tiered tangle of steel and brass innards known as “the chandelier.” It’s basically a supercharged refrigerator that gets colder with each layer down. At the bottom, kept in a vacuum a hair’s breadth above absolute zero, is what looks to the naked eye like an ordinary silicon chip. But rather than transistors, it’s etched with tiny superconducting circuits that, at these low temperatures, behave as if they were single atoms obeying the laws of quantum physics. Each one is a quantum bit, or qubit—the basic information–storage unit of a quantum computer.

Late last October, Google announced that one of those chips, called Sycamore, had become the first to demonstrate “quantum supremacy” by performing a task that would be practically impossible on a classical machine. With just 53 qubits, Sycamore had completed a calculation in a few minutes that, according to Google, would have taken the world’s most powerful existing supercomputer, Summit, 10,000 years. Google touted this as a major breakthrough, comparing it to the launch of Sputnik or the first flight by the Wright brothers—the threshold of a new era of machines that would make today’s mightiest computer look like an abacus.

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Quantum researchers able to split one photon into three


Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo report the first occurrence of directly splitting one photon into three.

 The occurrence, the first of its kind, used the spontaneous parametric down-conversion method (SPDC) in quantum optics and created what quantum optics researchers call a non-Gaussian state of light. A non-Gaussian state of light is considered a critical ingredient to gain a quantum advantage.

“It was understood that there were limits to the type of entanglement generated with the two-photon version, but these results form the basis of an exciting new paradigm of three-photon quantum optics,” said Chris Wilson, a principle investigator at IQC faculty member and a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Waterloo.

“Given that this research brings us past the known ability to split one photon into two entangled daughter photons, we’re optimistic that we’ve opened up a new area of exploration.”

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Writing a quantum algorithm? Avoid using a quantum computer


A Zapata researcher works on one of the company’s quantum computing algorithms.

Startups are helping companies write software for quantum computers. It isn’t easy.

Zapata Computing, a 30-person startup in Boston, creates software for quantum computers. But when a customer has a problem it would like to solve, one of Zapata’s first steps is to figure out how much it can avoid using a quantum machine.

That’s because quantum computing is, like the tiny particles that underlie the technology, in a paradoxical state: It has arrived, but it isn’t quite here. Quantum algorithms theoretically will be used for such transformative purposes as cracking encryption, simulating chemical reactions, and optimizing financial transactions. But the quantum machines that Google, IBM and other companies have so far put online for people to use aren’t up to the task. Their limited number of quantum bits, or qubits, are unstable: They can’t encode a lot of data yet.

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Engineers just built an impressively stable quantum silicon chip from artificial atoms


Newly created artificial atoms on a silicon chip could become the new basis for quantum computing.

Engineers in Australia have found a way to make these artificial atoms more stable, which in turn could produce more consistent quantum bits, or qubits – the basic units of information in a quantum system.

The research builds on previous work by the team, wherein they produced the very first qubits on a silicon chip, which could process information with over 99 percent accuracy. Now, they have found a way to minimise the error rate caused by imperfections in the silicon.

“What really excites us about our latest research is that artificial atoms with a higher number of electrons turn out to be much more robust qubits than previously thought possible, meaning they can be reliably used for calculations in quantum computers,” said quantum engineer Andrew Dzurak of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia.

“This is significant because qubits based on just one electron can be very unreliable.”

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A game plan for quantum computing


Pharmaceutical companies have an abiding interest in enzymes. These proteins catalyze all kinds of biochemical interactions, often by targeting a single type of molecule with great precision. Harnessing the power of enzymes may help alleviate the major diseases of our time.

Unfortunately, we don’t know the exact molecular structure of most enzymes. In principle, chemists could use computers to model these molecules in order to identify how the molecules work, but enzymes are such complex structures that most are impossible for classical computers to model.

A sufficiently powerful quantum computer, however, could accurately predict in a matter of hours the properties, structure, and reactivity of such substances—an advance that could revolutionize drug development and usher in a new era in healthcare. Quantum computers have the potential to resolve problems of this complexity and magnitude across many different industries and applications, including finance, transportation, chemicals, and cybersecurity.

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Quantum states in conventional electronics may beat end of Moore’s law


Graduate students Kevin Miao, Chris Anderson, and Alexandre Bourassa monitor quantum experiments at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering

Scientists at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering have found a way to produce quantum states in ordinary, everyday electronics. By harnessing the properties of quantum mechanics without exotic materials or equipment, this raises the possibility that quantum information technologies can be created using current devices.

For decades, the computer industry has benefited from Moore’s law, which is a rule of thumb that predicts that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double about every two years. As this has held up, computers have gone from giant machines that were part of the buildings that housed them to tiny devices that can fit on a thumbnail, yet can outperform any supercomputer from previous generations.

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Volkswagen demonstrates first successful real-world use of quantum computing to help optimize traffic routing


A quantum computer from D-Wave. Copyright: D-Wave.

Volkswagen AG has successfully demonstrated the world’s first live use of quantum computing to help optimize traffic routing. During the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Portugal, nine public transit buses used a traffic management system developed by Volkswagen scientists in the United States and Germany, powered by a D-Wave quantum computer, to calculate the fastest travel routes individually and in near-real time. (Earlier post.)

For more than two decades, advanced computing has held the promise of untangling the increasing traffic flow in modern cities. Today, modern navigation software can easily provide an individual vehicle with the shortest path by distance or time to any given destination taking existing traffic into account. But those calculations can’t take other vehicles’ navigation choices into account, so that when a system tells vehicles to re-route around a backup, it can create another cascading set of backups by directing too much traffic through chokepoints.

Volkswagen experts helped developed the Quantum Routing algorithm and data management system that runs on the D-Wave quantum computer in house, collaborating with specialists Hexad and PTV Group to round out the project. (Earlier post.)

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Google says its quantum computer has just completed a 10,000-year task in less than four minutes


‘This achievement is the result of years of research and the dedication of many people,’ Google engineering director Hartmut Neven said in a blog post

(Bloomberg) — Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it’s built a computer that’s reached “quantum supremacy,” performing a computation in 200 seconds that would take the fastest supercomputers about 10,000 years.

The results of Google’s tests, which were conducted using a quantum chip it developed in-house, were published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.

“This achievement is the result of years of research and the dedication of many people,” Google engineering director Hartmut Neven said in a blog post. “It’s also the beginning of a new journey: figuring out how to put this technology to work. We’re working with the research community and have open-sourced tools to enable others to work alongside us to identify new applications.”

The idea behind quantum computing is to exponentially improve the processing speed and power of computers to be able to simulate large systems, driving advances in physics, chemistry and other fields. Rather than storing information in binary 0s or 1s like classical computers, quantum computers rely on “qubits”, which can be both 0 and 1 simultaneously, dramatically increasing the amount of information that can be encoded.

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Google quantum computer leaves old-school supercomputers in the dust


Google’s Sycamore chip powers a quantum computer

 The era of practical quantum computers has begun — at least on one speed test showing “quantum supremacy.”

A Google quantum computer has far outpaced ordinary computing technology, an achievement called quantum supremacy that’s an important milestone for a revolutionary way of processing data. Google disclosed the results in the journal Nature on Wednesday. The achievement came after more than a decade of work at Google, including the use of its own quantum computing chip, called Sycamore.

“Our machine performed the target computation in 200 seconds, and from measurements in our experiment we determined that it would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to produce a similar output,” Google researchers said in a blog post about the work.

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