Another record has been broken on the way to fully operational and capable quantum computers: the complete control of a 6-qubit quantum processor in silicon.
Researchers are calling it “a major stepping stone” for the technology.
Qubits (or quantum bits) are the quantum equivalents of classical computing bits, only they can potentially process much more information. Thanks to quantum physics, they can be in two states at once, rather than just a single 1 or 0.
Quantum research today means big business. What was once seen as a scientific curiosity, quantum computing now promises to transform many aspects of everyday life from cybersecurity to drug development and weather forecasting. In recent years work in quantum computing has begun to move out of universities and into corporate research labs, with large multinationals as well as start-ups and venture capitalists entering the race to commercialize quantum technologies. But for all the record funding announcements and hype, some warn that this is fostering a “quantum bubble” that may soon pop.
Quantum Computing refers to a new form of computation based on quantum physics. It is expected to outperform classical computers in processing data and deriving optimisation from it. This technology can be widely adopted in the environmental sector, including enhancing the performance of energy sources and optimising urban planning.
Researchers from Simon Fraser University were successful in making a breakthrough in the field of quantum technology development. Their study paves the way for creating silicon-based quantum computing processors compatible with the existing semiconductor manufacturing technology.
The researchers light up the silicon chips’ tiny defects with intense light beams. Stephanie Simmons, the principal investigator of the research, explains that the imperfections of the chips serve as an information carrier. Investigators point out that the tiny defect reflects the transmitted light.
Quantum computing, though still in its early days, has the potential to dramatically increase processing power by harnessing the strange behavior of particles at the smallest scales. Some research groups have already reported performing calculations that would take a traditional supercomputer thousands of years. In the long term, quantum computers could provide unbreakable encryption and simulations of nature beyond today’s capabilities.
Computers are well-known for operating with binary information, or zeros and ones, which has led to computers powering so much of today’s world. Current quantum computers are also designed to process binary information.
Martin Ringbauer is an experimental physicist from Innsbruck, Austria.
“The building blocks of quantum computers, however, are more than just zeros and ones,” Ringbauer says. “Restricting them to binary systems prevents these devices from living up to their true potential.”
Perhaps a QC can help us work out why we’d want a QC
SYSTEMS APPROACH Back when I was field CTO for VMware in Asia-Pacific and Japan, many of my colleagues expected me to know something about everything in tech, and it was sometimes hard to bring myself to say “I don’t know.”
And so in 2018 when someone asked me to explain quantum computing I gave it a shot and made a complete mess of the explanation. In fact, I made the most typical mistake of a dabbling generalist (often made in the popular science press) which was to say something about trying lots of solutions in parallel, leveraging the quantum property of being in a superposition of multiple states. If you know only one thing about quantum mechanics, it’s likely to be the thought experiment of Schrödinger’s cat, in which the cat is supposedly in two states (alive and dead) at the same time. Well, that turns out to be just enough to produce a pretty bad explanation of quantum computing.
Practical applications of quantum computing may be emerging at different rates in different sectors, but the overall message from executives across industry is that they need to start preparing now.
Quantum computing continues to dominate the emerging technology news agenda. A series of big moves have been made in the field in the UK recently, including the Ministry of Defence’s purchase of the first government-owned quantum computer and the prediction by Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, speaking at the ‘Quantum Computing Summit’ in London recently, that national investment in quantum technologies is set to surpass £1bn by 2024.
Since late 2019, Amazon Braket has been in private preview. However, Amazon AWS recently announced its general availability. Customers can purchase quantum computing services directly from the Amazon Braket platform. Amazon named the service after a standard quantum notation called Bra–ket that was created in the late 1930s by Paul Dirac, a famous theoretical physicist.
Simulating specific features of a quantum computer on today’s “classical” computers leads to “quantum-inspired” algorithms that mimic certain quantum behaviors. This enables organizations to start realizing some of the benefits of quantum computing and learning more about this promising emerging technology before fully-scaled quantum hardware becomes available.
A new machine learning framework could pave the way for small, mobile quantum networks.
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