quantum computer

Sydney’s Scalable Silicon Warmer qubits clear a major roadblock for Quantum Computers

  • Warmer qubit by Australian researchers can operate at 1.5 Kelvin
  • New qubit is 15 times warmer than the existing chip-based technology which was operating close to absolute zero
  • Production-friendly qubits that can be built on consumer-ready silicon chips at a large scale.
  • Silicon qubits can operate in smaller freezing systems, reducing the cost from millions of dollars to a few thousand.

Quantum computers are significantly faster and solve many complex computational problems and algorithms that no classical computer can. It can handle the computing required for designing new medicines for artificial intelligence. Quantum computing based on quantum circuits broke the key challenges of time and complexity based on quantum bits which are otherwise called qubits. A lot of hard work and huge funds invested bringing break at each stage of Quantum computing experiments. Besides handling the complex algorithms at faster speeds, the manufacturing of quantum circuits that can operate in the real world has many challenges yet to be solved. Against all these odds, Quantum processors successfully brought computing revolution to this world, and it became one of the many organizational goals of big players across the globe.

But one of the tough challenges is that most of the quantum computers constructed till now can work only a fraction of degrees just above absolute zero. So, the qubits are usually constituted of a single atom of an element with two carefully held and controlled electrons. This must be cooled at a temperature of absolute zero to reach superconductivity and be operated successfully with no errors. And maintaining such a low temperature as absolute zero is highly not possible to achieve. Even though scientists reached closer temperatures to absolute zero, it needs several million dollars for supercooling. The electronics required to compute the qubits generate a lot of heat; therefore, it is necessary to maintain a very low temperature achieved through a large set-up of super-cooling refrigerators. The wiring system itself becomes a huge mess.

Constructing a qubit system that can operate in real-time temperature is a major technical challenge of current-day quantum computing. The capacity to work at higher temperatures is the key factor towards developing bulk qubits that can process future commercially used quantum computers.

Two recently released papers by Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) addressed this problem. A proof-of-concept by Professor Andrew Dzurak and his team was published in Nature magazine. This POC assures warmer, cheaper qubits that can be developed at higher scales using conventional silicon chip foundries. The POC developed by Dzurak’s team consists of a pair of quantum bits using electrons tunneling on consumer-ready silicon chips. Each silicon qubit contains some electrons held within a quantum unit called a quantum dot. To be noted that these quantum dots differ from the ones used in cameras and displays. In fact, these are minute spaces in silicon chips that pass just below the gate electrode of a normal conventional transistor. The electrons which hold together in a quantum dot are called a silicon spin qubit. The error tolerance of qubits, designed in this way, also makes it possible for the entire quantum system to function appropriately with no error.

Dr. Andrew Dzurak’s results open a new way from experimental devices to cheaper, affordable, and scalable Quantum processors for real-world use such as in manufacturing, government, and R&D facilities. Dr. Dzurak appreciated that the proof-of-principle experiments by Dr. Henry Yang had proved that silicon qubits could operate at higher temperatures above 1 Kelvin, which was 15 times hotter than previous prototypes. This means we can use smaller cooling systems, reducing the costs of larger refrigerators and wiring systems to one-hundredth of the present cost. This is a major breakthrough in the whole new world of Quantum Computing and will surely pave the way for large-scale commercial use of Quantum Computers.

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