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Google Unveils 72-Qubit Quantum Computer - On the Verge of Quantum Supremacy

(Editor's Note: Quantum supremacy may still be some years away as researchers strive to surpass the challenges of keeping such exotic systems stable and error-free enough for them to provide actually useful in more complex calculations. As complexity increases, so does the system's stability decrease, so researchers have to come up with novel ways of not only expanding the scope of the quantum computer, but also stabilizing it. That quantum supremacy is some years away should elicit a sigh of relief from users, as it means that our current encryption techniques will be relevant for that much more time; however, it's really only a matter of time before quantum-based encryption schemes are necessary to maintain the status quo. Of course, general purpose computers will - and do - keep on evolving and increasing in performance as well, so quantum supremacy may find itself chasing the goose, so to speak, for a little more time.)

The goal of the Google Quantum AI lab is to build a quantum computer that can be used to solve real-world problems. Our strategy is to explore near-term applications using systems that are forward compatible to a large-scale universal error-corrected quantum computer. In order for a quantum processor to be able to run algorithms beyond the scope of classical simulations, it requires not only a large number of qubits. Crucially, the processor must also have low error rates on readout and logical operations, such as single and two-qubit gates.

Intel Sees Promise of Silicon Spin Qubits for Quantum Computing

Quantum computing is heralded for its potential to tackle problems that today's conventional computers can't handle. Scientists and industries are looking to quantum computing to speed advancements in areas like chemistry or drug development, financial modeling, and even climate forecasting.

To deliver on quantum computing's potential, Intel initiated a collaborative research program in 2015 with the goal of developing a commercially viable quantum computing system. While there's been significant progress, quantum computing research is still nascent. The industry is at mile one in a marathon, and to realize this new computing paradigm, many problems must be solved and many architectural decisions must be made. For example, it's not yet clear what form quantum processors (or "qubits") will take. That's why Intel is placing two major research bets and investing in them equally.

The Future is Quantum: Microsoft Releases Free Preview of Q# Development Kit

So you want to learn how to program a quantum computer. Now, there's a toolkit for that. Microsoft is releasing a free preview version of its Quantum Development Kit, which includes the Q# programming language, a quantum computing simulator and other resources for people who want to start writing applications for a quantum computer. The Q# programming language was built from the ground up specifically for quantum computing.

The Quantum Development Kit, which Microsoft first announced at its Ignite conference in September, is designed for developers who are eager to learn how to program on quantum computers whether or not they are experts in the field of quantum physics. It's deeply integrated into Visual Studio, Microsoft's suite of developer tools, so aspects of it will be familiar to people who are already developing applications in other programming languages. And it's designed to work with a local quantum simulator, also released as part of the kit, that can simulate around 30 logical qubits of quantum computing power using a typical laptop computer. That will allow developers to debug quantum code and test programs on small instances right on their own computers.

Japan Opens Prototype Quantum Computing System for Public, Worldwide Use

Japan's Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Company (NTT) is opening up its prototype quantum computing system for public use over the internet, giving users around the world access to one of the most elusive pieces of tech that this world has yet seem. Maybe we haven't seen it, though; observation does change the outcome, and these quantum physics really are as finicky as they come. Starting Nov. 27, Japan joins China and the U.S. in the race to develop the world's most advanced computers - and Japan has chosen the free, quantum-democratizing approach.

The NTT quantum computing solution is a state-sponsored research project, developed in conjunction with the National Institute of Informatics, Osaka university, and other partners. It has taken a different technical approach from other quantum computing developers, in that this particular computing system is exploiting the properties of light. Widely (un)known as Linear Optics Quantum Computation (LOQC), this particular approach foregoes qubits (which are extremely difficult to keep from decohering, and usually require very exotic cooling techniques to increase the qubits' stability. LOQC abandons qubits and uses photons to represent them as information carriers through linear optical elements (such as beam splitters, phase shifters, and mirrors). This allows the machine to process quantum information, using photon detectors and quantum memories to detect and store quantum information.

Intel Delivers 17-qubit Superconducting Chip with Advanced Packaging to QuTech

Today, Intel announced the delivery of a 17-qubit superconducting test chip for quantum computing to QuTech, Intel's quantum research partner in the Netherlands. The new chip was fabricated by Intel and features a unique design to achieve improved yield and performance. The delivery of this chip demonstrates the fast progress Intel and QuTech are making in researching and developing a working quantum computing system. It also underscores the importance of material science and semiconductor manufacturing in realizing the promise of quantum computing.

Quantum computing, in essence, is the ultimate in parallel computing, with the potential to tackle problems conventional computers can't handle. For example, quantum computers may simulate nature to advance research in chemistry, materials science and molecular modeling - like helping to create a new catalyst to sequester carbon dioxide, or create a room temperature superconductor or discover new drugs. However, despite much experimental progress and speculation, there are inherent challenges to building viable, large-scale quantum systems that produce accurate outputs. Making qubits (the building blocks of quantum computing) uniform and stable is one such obstacle.

IBM Research Announces New Advances in Device Performance for Quantum Computing

Scientists at IBM Research (NYSE: IBM)/ (#ibmresearch) have achieved major advances in quantum computing device performance that will accelerate the realization of a practical, full-scale quantum computer. For specific applications, quantum computing which leverages the underlying quantum mechanical behavior of matter has the potential to deliver computational power that is unrivaled by any supercomputer today.

Using a variety of techniques in the IBM labs, scientists have established three new records for reducing the error in elementary computations and retaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits (qubits) – the basic units that carry information within quantum computing. Furthermore, IBM has chosen to employ superconducting qubits which use established microfabrication techniques developed for silicon technology, providing the potential to one day scale up to and manufacture thousands or millions of qubits.

World's Smallest Silicon Wire Leads To Atomic-Scale Computing, Moore's Law Continues

News of quantum breakthroughs seem to be coming every few months now, edging ever closer towards the hallowed goal of building a quantum computer using quantum qubits rather than classical bits and bringing colossal improvements in computational power. This will eventually lead to applications that we can't even imagine now and possibly a true artificial intelligence of the kind one sees in the movies. Also, it would allow calculations that would normally take longer than the lifetime of the universe on a classical computer to be made in just a few seconds or minutes on a quantum one. A goal well worth striving for.

The latest breakthrough comes from the University of New South Wales, Melbourne University and Purdue University who have developed the smallest wire yet. It's a silicon nanowire, having the tiny dimensions of just one atom high and four atoms wide. This is a feat in itself, but the crucial part is that the wire is able to maintain its resistivity even at this atomic level, making it far easier for current to flow, thereby preventing the tiny wire from becoming useless. This will help with the continuation of Moore's Law, giving us ever more powerful computers at the present rate and opens the door to quantum computing within the next decade.

TechEYE has a more detailed article about this development. This is based on an ABC Radio interview with Michelle Simmons from the University of New South Wales and makes for fascinating listening.

Multi-Purpose Photonic Chip Paves The Way To Programmable Quantum Processors

A multi-purpose optical chip which generates, manipulates and measures entanglement and mixture - two quantum phenomena which are essential driving forces for tomorrow's quantum computers - has been developed by researchers from the University of Bristol's Centre for Quantum Photonics. This work represents an important step forward in the race to develop a quantum computer.

The fundamental resource that drives a quantum computer is entanglement - the connection between two distant particles which Einstein famously called 'spooky action at a distance'. The Bristol researchers have, for the first time, shown that this remarkable phenomenon can be generated, manipulated and measured entirely on a tiny silica chip. They have also used the same chip to measure mixture - an often unwanted effect from the environment, but a phenomenon which can now be controlled and used to characterize quantum circuits, as well as being of fundamental interest to physicists.
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