One of the challenges in reaching the full potential of quantum computing is figuring out how to make millions of qubits work together – the quantum equivalent of the classic bits that store 1s or 0s in conventional computers.
Scientists at the University of Sussex in the UK have now been able to travel directly between two quantum computer microchips at speeds and accuracy far greater than anything previously seen with this technique.
It shows that quantum computers can be scaled beyond the physical limits of a microchip, an important factor when you’re dealing with potentially millions of qubits in a single machine. Universal Quantum, a startup spun out of the University of Sussex, will continue to develop the technology.
Researchers Winfried Hensinger and Sebastian Veidt with their quantum computer prototype. (University of Sussex)
“The team has demonstrated fast and coherent ion transfer using quantum matter links,” says quantum scientist Maryam Akhtar. Akhtar led the research on the prototype while at the University of Sussex.
“This experiment validates the unique architecture that Universal Quantum is developing – providing an exciting path towards truly large-scale quantum computing.”
The researchers used a special technique they are calling UQConnect to transport qubits using an electric field setup. This means that microchips can be slotted together, similar to jigsaw puzzle pieces, to build a quantum computer.
Researcher Maryam Akhtar with the quantum computer control panel. (University of Sussex)
While the puppets are notorious for being stationary and shifting around, the team achieved a 99.999993 percent success rate and a connection rate of 2,424 links per second. There is scope for hundreds or thousands of quantum computing microchips to be connected in this way with minimal data or fidelity loss.
There’s more than one way to build a quantum microchip: In this case, the architecture used trapped atomic ions as qubits for best stability and reliability and charge-coupled device circuitry for improved electrical charge transfer.
“As quantum computers grow, we will eventually be constrained by the size of the microchip, which limits the number of quantum bits it can hold,” says Winfred Hensinger, a quantum scientist at the University of Sussex.
“Thus, we knew that a modular approach was key to making quantum computers powerful enough to solve step-changing industry problems.”
The purposes for which quantum computers may eventually be put to include developing new materials, research into drug treatments, improving cyber security, and climate change models.
While quantum computers exist today, they are limited in scope compared to what they could eventually become – they are more research projects than machines that can be practically used and programmed.
The breakthrough we report here is moving us closer to fully realizing the potential of quantum computing, and developing ways to harness millions of qubits is an important part of this.
“These exciting results show the remarkable potential of universal quantum well quantum computers to become powerful enough to unlock many life-changing applications of quantum computing,” says Sebastian Veidt, a quantum scientist at the University of Sussex.
Research has been published nature communication,