June 23, 2024

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MIT holds the key to fully functional quantum computers.  It promises a lot

MIT holds the key to fully functional quantum computers. It promises a lot

  • Fully functional quantum computers would need to pack at least hundreds of thousands of qubits

  • MIT proposes an innovative architecture designed to maximize qubit scalability

Current prototypes of quantum computers are extremely complex machines. During a conversation I had with him in June 2021, Spanish physicist Ignacio Cerac explained to me that he believes it is correct to define current quantum computers As prototypes To differentiate it from the fully functional machines that we hope will arrive in the future. Ignacio is, along with Peter Zoller, the founding father of quantum computers.

One of the reasons why current prototypes are so complex is that it is necessary to keep the internal energy level of the system as low as possible. In this way, fundamental particles lack motion according to the principles of classical mechanics. Curiously, even if we could reach absolute zero, there would still be residual energy, known in quantum mechanics as zero-point energy, which is the lowest energy level a physical system can have.

The operating temperature of quantum equipment owned by companies like Intel, Google or IBM is around 20 millikelvin, which is approximately -273 degrees Celsius, which allows us to sense that the cooling system that needs to be set up to achieve this and maintain this extremely low temperature is complex. However, this is by no means the only challenge presented by the arrival of fully functional quantum computers.

The architecture of quantum computers proposed by MIT enhances scalability

One of the biggest challenges facing researchers working in the field of quantum computing is finding a way to make these machines capable of correcting their own errors. The most supportive strategies for achieving this goal require the fabrication of more stable, higher-quality qubits and, above all, the design of quantum systems capable of precisely assembling and controlling many qubits.

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This quantum hardware platform is capable of integrating thousands of interconnected qubits within an integrated circuit

Some scientists believe that several hundred thousand qubits will be needed to implement the long-awaited error correction. However, others argue that it would be necessary to collect several million qubits to reach this milestone. Whatever the case, it is clear that fully functional quantum computers will arrive when they can be fine-tuned. Quantum systems made up of many qubits. The problem is that it is not easy to interconnect and control a very large number of qubits.

In practical terms we can see a quantum computer as a machine made up of many functional blocks with their own entity known as interconnected qubits. This architecture is very complex, and it is precisely this inherent complexity that makes scalability very difficult. As we have just seen, it is necessary to increase the number of interconnected qubits as much as possible. Fortunately, a group of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and MITRE has proposed a very innovative solution to this problem.

In the scientific article they published in nature Describe a modular, scalable quantum hardware platform capable of integrating thousands of interconnected qubits contained within a custom integrated circuit. that it Quantum system on a chip Full (known in English as QSoC or Quantum system on chip). The main advantage of this technology is that it allows researchers to tune and control a large group of qubits very precisely.

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but this is not all. Its modular architecture contemplates the possibility of connecting multiple QSoCs using fiber-optic networks for the purpose of creating large-scale quantum communications networks. Additionally, these researchers have invested several years in improving QSoC manufacturing techniques to leverage the technology foundation that supports today’s cutting-edge semiconductor production. This project looks great. Who knows, maybe in a few years, quantum computers containing millions of qubits will become possible thanks to scientific initiatives like this.

Image | Sampson Wilcox and Linsen Lee, RLE

More information | nature

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