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Trump betting millions to lay the groundwork for quantum internet in the US – CNBC

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In the 1960s the U.S. government funded a series of experiments developing techniques to shuttle information from one computer to another. Devices in single labs sprouted connections, then neighboring labs linked up. Soon the network had blossomed between research institutions across the country, setting down the roots of what would become the internet and transforming forever how people use information. Now, 60 years later, the Department of Energy is aiming to do it again.

The Trump administration's 2021 budget request currently under consideration by Congress proposes slashing the overall funding for scientific research by nearly 10% but boosts spending on quantum information science by about 20%, to $237 million. Of that, the DOE has requested $25 million to accelerate the development of a quantum internet. Such a network would leverage the counterintuitive behavior of nature's particles to manipulate and share information in entirely new ways, with the potential to reinvent fields including cybersecurity and material science.

Whilethetraditional internet for general useisn't going anywhere, a quantum networkwouldoffer decisive advantages for certain applications: Researchers could use it to develop drugs and materials by simulating atomic behavior onnetworked quantum computers, for instance, and financial institutions and governments would benefit from next-level cybersecurity. Many countries are pursuing quantum research programs, and with the 2021 budget proposal, the Trumpadministration seeks to ramp up thateffort.

"That level of funding will enable us to begin to develop the groundwork for sophisticated, practical and high-impact quantum networks," says David Awschalom, a quantum engineer at the University of Chicago. "It's significant and extremely important."

A quantum internet will develop in fits and starts, much like the traditional internet did and continues to do. China has already realized an early application, quantum encryption, between certain cities, but fully quantum networks spanning entire countries will take decades, experts say. Building it willrequire re-engineering the quantum equivalent of routers, hard drives, and computers from the ground up foundational work already under way today.

Where the modern internet traffics in bits streaming between classical computers (a category that now includes smart phones, tablets, speakers and thermostats), a quantum internet would carry a fundamentally different unit of information known as the quantum bit, or qubit.

Bits all boil down to instances of nature's simplest eventsquestions with yes or no answers. Computer chips process cat videos by stopping some electric currents while letting others flow. Hard drives store documents by locking magnets in either the up or down position.

Qubits represent a different language altogether, one based on the behavior of atoms, electrons, and other particles, objects governed by the bizarre rules of quantum mechanics. These objects lead more fluid and uncertain lives than their strait-laced counterparts in classical computing. A hard drive magnet must always point up or down, for instance, but an electron's direction is unknowable until measured. More precisely, the electron behaves in such a way that describing its orientation requires a more complex concept known as superposition that goes beyond the straightforward labels of "up" or "down."

Quantum particles can also be yoked together in a relationship called entanglement, such as when two photons (light particles) shine from the same source. Pairs of entangled particles share an intimate bond akin to the relationship between the two faces of a coin when one face shows heads the other displays tails. Unlike a coin, however, entangled particles can travel far from each other and maintain their connection.

Quantum information science unites these and other phenomena, promising a novel, richer way to process information analogous to moving from 2-D to 3-D graphics, or learning to calculate with decimals instead of just whole numbers. Quantum devices fluent in nature's native tongue could, for instance, supercharge scientists' ability to design materials and drugs by emulating new atomic structures without having to test their properties in the lab. Entanglement, a delicate link destroyed by external tampering, could guarantee that connections between devices remain private.

But such miracles remain years to decades away. Both superposition and entanglement are fragile states most easily maintained at frigid temperatures in machines kept perfectly isolated from the chaos of the outside world. And as quantum computer scientists search for ways to extend their control over greater numbers of finicky particles, quantum internet researchers are developing the technologies required to link those collections of particles together.

The interior of a quantum computer prototype developed by IBM. While various groups race to build quantum computers, Department of Energy researchers seek ways to link them together.

IBM

Just as it did in the 1960s, the DOE is again sowing the seeds for a future network at its national labs. Beneath the suburbs of western Chicago lie 52 miles of optical fiber extending in two loops from Argonne National Laboratory. Early this year, Awschalom oversaw the system's first successful experiments. "We created entangled states of light," he says, "and tried to use that as a vehicle to test how entanglement works in the real world not in a lab going underneath the tollways of Illinois."

Daily temperature swings cause the wires to shrink by dozens of feet, for instance, requiring careful adjustment in the timing of the pulses to compensate. This summer the team plans to extend their network with another node, bringing the neighboring Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory into the quantum fold.

Similar experiments are under way on the East Coast, too, where researchers have sent entangled photons over fiber-optic cables connecting Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York with Stony Brook University, a distance of about 11 miles. Brookhaven scientists are also testing the wireless transmission of entangled photons over a similar distance through the air. While this technique requires fair weather, according to Kerstin Kleese van Dam, the director of Brookhaven's computational science initiative, it could someday complement networks of fiber-optic cables. "We just want to keep our options open," she says.

Such sending and receiving of entangled photons represent the equivalent of quantum routers, but next researchers need a quantum hard drive a way to save the information they're exchanging. "What we're on the cusp of doing," Kleese van Dam says, "is entangled memories over miles."

When photons carry information in from the network, quantum memory will store those qubits in the form of entangled atoms, much as current hard drives use flipped magnets to hold bits. Awschalom expects the Argonne and University of Chicago groups to have working quantum memories this summer, around the same time they expand their network to Fermilab, at which point it will span 100 miles.

But that's about as far as light can travel before growing too dim to read. Before they can grow their networks any larger, researchers will need to invent a quantum repeater a device that boosts an atrophied signal for another 100-mile journey. Classical internet repeaters just copy the information and send out a new pulse of light, but that process breaks entanglement (a feature that makes quantum communications secure from eavesdroppers). Instead, Awschalom says, researchers have come up with a scheme to amplify the quantum signal by shuffling it into other forms without ever reading it directly. "We have some prototype quantum repeaters currently running. They're not good enough," he says, "but we're learning a lot."

Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Paul M. Dabbar (left) sends a pair of entangled photons along the quantum loop. Also shown are Argonne scientist David Awschalom (center) and Argonne Laboratory Director Paul Kearns.

Argonne National Laboratory

And if Congress approves the quantum information science line in the 2021 budget, researchers like Awschalom and Kleese van Dam will learn a lot more. Additional funding for their experiments could lay the foundations for someday extending their local links into a country-wide network. "There's a long-term vision to connect all the national labs, coast to coast," says Paul Dabbar, the DOE's Under Secretary for Science.

In some senses the U.S. trails other countries in quantum networking. China, for example, has completed a 1,200-mile backbone linking Beijing and Shanghai that banks and other companies are already using for nearly perfectly secure encryption. But the race for a fully featured quantum internet is more marathon than sprint, and China has passed only the first milestone. Kleese van Dam points out that without quantum repeaters, this network relies on a few dozen "trusted" nodes Achilles' heels that temporarily put the quantum magic on pause while the qubits are shoved through bit-based bottlenecks. She's holding out for truly secure end-to-end communication. "What we're planning to do goes way beyond what China is doing," she says.

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Researchers ultimately envision a whole quantum ecosystem of computers, memories, and repeaters all speaking the same language of superposition and entanglement, with nary a bit in sight. "It's like a big stew where everything has to be kept quantum mechanical," Awschalom says. "You don't want to go to the classical world at all."

After immediate applications such as unbreakable encryptions, he speculates that such a network could also lead to seismic sensors capable of logging the vibration of the planet at the atomic level, but says that the biggest consequences will likely be the ones no one sees coming. He compares the current state of the field to when electrical engineers developed the first transistors and initially used them to improve hearing aids, completely unaware that they were setting off down a path that would someday bring social media and video conferencing.

As researchers at Brookhaven, Argonne, and many other institutions tinker with the quantum equivalent of transistors, but they can't help but wonder what the quantum analog of video chat will be. "It's clear there's a lot of promise. It's going to move quickly," Awschalom says. "But the most exciting part is that we don't know exactly where it's going to go."

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Trump betting millions to lay the groundwork for quantum internet in the US - CNBC

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Announcing the IBM Quantum Challenge – Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source

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Today, we have 18 quantum systems and counting available to our clients and community. Over 200,000 users, including more than 100 IBM Q Network client partners, have joined us to conduct fundamental research on quantum information science, develop the applications of quantum computing in various industries, and educate the future quantum workforce. Additionally, 175 billion quantum circuits have been executed using our hardware, resulting in more than 200 publications by researchers around the world.

In addition to developing quantum hardware, we have also been driving the development of powerful open source quantum software. Qiskit, written primarily in Python, has grown to be a popular quantum computing software development kit with several novel features, many of which were contributed by dedicated Qiskitters.

Thank you to everyone who has joined us on this exciting journey building the largest and most diverse global quantum computing community.

The IBM Quantum Challenge As we approach the fourth anniversary of the IBM Quantum Experience, we invite you to celebrate with us by completing a challenge with four exercises. Whether you are already a member of the community, or this challenge is your first quantum experiment, these four exercises will improve your understanding of quantum circuits. We hope you also have fun as you put your skills to test.

The IBM Quantum Challenge begins at 9:00 a.m. US Eastern on May 4, and ends 8:59:59 a.m. US Eastern on May 8. To take the challenge, visit https://quantum-computing.ibm.com/challenges.

In recognition of everyones participation, we are awarding digital badges and providing additional sponsorship to the Python Software Foundation.

Continued investment in quantum education Trying to explain quantum computing without resorting to incorrect analogies has always been a goal for our team. As a result, we have continuously invested in education, starting with opening access to quantum computers, and continuing to create tools that enable anyone to program them. Notably, we created the first interactive open source textbook in the field.

As developers program quantum computers, what they are really doing is building and running quantum circuits. To support your learning about quantum circuits:

Read the Qiskit textbook chapter where we define quantum circuits as we understand them today. Dive in to explore quantum computing principles and learn how to implement quantum algorithms on your own. Watch our newly launched livelectures called Circuit Sessions, or get started programming a quantum computer by watching Coding with Qiskit. Subscribe to the Qiskit YouTube channel to watch these two series and more. The future of quantum is in open source software and access to real quantum hardwarelets keep building together.

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Announcing the IBM Quantum Challenge - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source

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Wiring the Quantum Computer of the Future: Researchers from Japan and Australia propose a novel 2D design – QS WOW News

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The basic units of a quantum computer can be rearranged in 2D to solve typical design and operation challenges. Efficient quantum computing is expected to enable advancements that are impossible with classical computers. A group of scientists from Tokyo University of Science, Japan, RIKEN Centre for Emergent Matter Science, Japan, and the University of Technology, Sydney have collaborated and proposed a novel two-dimensional design that can be constructed using existing integrated circuit technology. This design solves typical problems facing the current three-dimensional packaging for scaled-up quantum computers, bringing the future one step closer.

Quantum computing is increasingly becoming the focus of scientists in fields such as physics and chemistry, and industrialists in the pharmaceutical, airplane, and automobile industries. Globally, research labs at companies like Google and IBM are spending extensive resources on improving quantum computers, and with good reason. Quantum computers use the fundamentals of quantum mechanics to process significantly greater amounts of information much faster than classical computers. It is expected that when the error-corrected and fault-tolerant quantum computation is achieved, scientific and technological advancement will occur at an unprecedented scale.

But, building quantum computers for large-scale computation is proving to be a challenge in terms of their architecture. The basic units of a quantum computer are the quantum bits or qubits. These are typically atoms, ions, photons, subatomic particles such as electrons, or even larger elements that simultaneously exist in multiple states, making it possible to obtain several potential outcomes rapidly for large volumes of data. The theoretical requirement for quantum computers is that these are arranged in two-dimensional (2D) arrays, where each qubit is both coupled with its nearest neighbor and connected to the necessary external control lines and devices. When the number of qubits in an array is increased, it becomes difficult to reach qubits in the interior of the array from the edge. The need to solve this problem has so far resulted in complex three-dimensional (3D) wiring systems across multiple planes in which many wires intersect, making their construction a significant engineering challenge. https://youtu.be/14a__swsYSU

The team of scientists led by Prof Jaw-Shen Tsai has proposed a unique solution to this qubit accessibility problem by modifying the architecture of the qubit array. Here, we solve this problem and present a modified superconducting micro-architecture that does not require any 3D external line technology and reverts to a completely planar design, they say. This study has been published in the New Journal of Physics.

The scientists began with a qubit square lattice array and stretched out each column in the 2D plane. They then folded each successive column on top of each other, forming a dual one-dimensional array called a bi-linear array. This put all qubits on the edge and simplified the arrangement of the required wiring system. The system is also completely in 2D. In this new architecture, some of the inter-qubit wiringeach qubit is also connected to all adjacent qubits in an arraydoes overlap, but because these are the only overlaps in the wiring, simple local 3D systems such as airbridges at the point of overlap are enough and the system overall remains in 2D. As you can imagine, this simplifies its construction considerably.

The scientists evaluated the feasibility of this new arrangement through numerical and experimental evaluation in which they tested how much of a signal was retained before and after it passed through an airbridge. The results of both evaluations showed that it is possible to build and run this system using existing technology and without any 3D arrangement.

The scientists experiments also showed them that their architecture solves several problems that plague the 3D structures: they are difficult to construct, there is crosstalk or signal interference between waves transmitted across two wires, and the fragile quantum states of the qubits can degrade. The novel pseudo-2D design reduces the number of times wires cross each other, thereby reducing the crosstalk and consequently increasing the efficiency of the system.

At a time when large labs worldwide are attempting to find ways to build large-scale fault-tolerant quantum computers, the findings of this exciting new study indicate that such computers can be built using existing 2D integrated circuit technology. The quantum computer is an information device expected to far exceed the capabilities of modern computers, Prof Tsai states. The research journey in this direction has only begun with this study, and Prof Tsai concludes by saying, We are planning to construct a small-scale circuit to further examine and explore the possibility.

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Wiring the Quantum Computer of the Future: Researchers from Japan and Australia propose a novel 2D design - QS WOW News

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Muquans and Pasqal partner to advance quantum computing – Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source

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This partnership is an opportunity to leverage a unique industrial and technological expertise for the design, integration and validation of advanced quantum solutions that has been applied for more than a decade to quantum gravimeters and atomic clocks. It will speed up the development of Pasqals processors and will bring them to an unprecedented maturity level.

Muquans will supply several key technological building blocks and a technical assistance to Pasqal, that will offer an advanced computing and simulation capability towards quantum advantage for real life applications.

We have the strong belief that the neutral atoms technology developed by Pasqal has a unique potential and this agreement is a wonderful opportunity for Muquans to participate on the great adventure of quantum computing. It will also help us find new opportunities for our technologies. We expect this activity to significantly grow in the coming years and this partnership will allow us to become a key stakeholder in the supply chain of quantum computers., Bruno Desruelle, CEO Muquans

Muquans laser solutions combine extreme performance, advanced functionalities and industrial reliability. When you develop the next generation of quantum computers, you need to rely on strong bases and build trust with your partners. Being able to embed this technology in our processors will be a key factor for our company to consolidate our competitive advantage and bring quantum processors to the market., Georges-Olivier Reymond, CEO Pasqal

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Muquans and Pasqal partner to advance quantum computing - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source

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Deltec Bank, Bahamas – Quantum Computing Will bring Efficiency and Effectiveness and Cost Saving in Baking Sector – marketscreener.com

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When you add AI and machine learning capabilities to the mix, we could potentially develop pre-warning systems that detect fraud before it even happens.

As online banking grows it is becoming a hot target for cybercriminals around the world as they become ever more adept at cracking bank security. Now, banks are looking into the technology behind quantum computing as a potential solution to this threat as well as its many other benefits. Currently, the technology is still in development but it is expected to take over from traditional computing in the next five to ten years.

What is quantum computing?

With quantum computing, the amount of processing power available is far larger than even the fastest silicon chips in existence today. Rather than using the traditional 1 and 0 method of binary computer processing, quantum computing uses qubits. Utilizing the theory of quantum superposition, these provide a way of processing 1s and 0s simultaneously, increasing the speed of the computer by several orders of magnitude.

For example, in October 2019, Google's 'Sycamore' quantum computer solved an equation in 200 seconds that would have taken a normal supercomputer 10,000 years to complete. This gives you an idea of the power that we are talking about.

So how does this help the banking sector?

1. Fraud Detection

Fraud is quickly becoming the biggest threat to online banking and data security. Customers need to feel confident that their money and their personal information is kept secure and with data leaks happening more frequently, this problem must be addressed.

Quantum computing offers significant benefits in the fight against fraud, offering enough computing power to automatically and instantly detect patterns that are commonly associated with fraudulent activity. When you add AI and machine learning capabilities to the mix, we could potentially develop pre-warning systems that detect fraud before it even happens.

2. Quantum Cryptography

Cryptography is an area of science that has recently gained popularity. The technology has proven incredibly useful in helping to secure the blockchain networks.

Quantum cryptography takes this security to an entirely new level, particularly when applied to financial data. It provides the ability to store data in a theoretical state of constant flux, making it near impossible for hackers to read or steal.

However, it could also be used to easily crack existing cryptographic security methods. Currently, the strongest 2048-bit encryption would take normal computer ages to break in to, whereas a quantum computer could do it in a matter of seconds.

3. Distributed Keys

Distributed key generation (DKG) is already being used by many online platforms for increased protection against data interception. Now, quantum technology provides a new system known as Measurement-Device Independent Quantum Key Distribution (MKI-QKD) which secures communications to a level that even quantum computers can't hack.

The technology is already being investigated by several financial institutions, notably major Dutch bank ABN-AMRO for their online and mobile banking applications.

4. Trading and Data

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data are all new technologies that are currently being tested enthusiastically by banks. However, one of the biggest pain points with these technologies is the amount of processing power required.

According to Deltec Bank - "Quantum computing could quickly accelerate this research past the testing level and provide instant solutions to many problems currently facing the banking world. Time-consuming activities like mortgage and loan approvals would become instant and high-frequency trading could become automated and near error-proof."

Banks that are looking into quantum

Many major banks around the world are already investigating the potential benefits of quantum computing.

UK banking giant Barclays has worked in conjunction with IBM to develop a proof-of-concept that utilizes quantum computing to settle transactions. When applied to trading, the concept could successfully complete massive amounts of complex trades in seconds.

Major US bank JPMorgan has also expressed an interest in the technology for its security and data processing abilities. The bank has tasked its senior engineer with creating a 'quantum culture' in the business and meeting fortnightly with scientists to explore developments in the field.

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) is working with the Spanish National Research Council (CISC) to explore various applications of quantum computing. The team believes the technology could reduce risk and improve customer service.

Quantum Computing though still in an early stage will have a significant impact on the Banking sectors in years to come.

Disclaimer: The author of this text, Robin Trehan, has an Undergraduate degree in economics, Masters in international business and finance and MBA in electronic business. Trehan is Senior VP at Deltec International http://www.deltecbank.com. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text are solely the views of the author, and not necessarily reflecting the views of Deltec International Group, its subsidiaries and/or employees.

About Deltec Bank

Headquartered in The Bahamas, Deltec is an independent financial services group that delivers bespoke solutions to meet clients' unique needs. The Deltec group of companies includes Deltec Bank & Trust Limited, Deltec Fund Services Limited, and Deltec Investment Advisers Limited, Deltec Securities Ltd. and Long Cay Captive Management.

Media Contact

Company Name: Deltec International Group

Contact Person: Media Manager

Email: rtrehan@deltecial.com

Phone: 242 302 4100

Country: Bahamas

Website: https://www.deltecbank.com/

Source: http://www.abnewswire.com

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(C) 2020 M2 COMMUNICATIONS, source M2 PressWIRE

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Deltec Bank, Bahamas - Quantum Computing Will bring Efficiency and Effectiveness and Cost Saving in Baking Sector - marketscreener.com

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New way of developing topological superconductivity discovered – Chemie.de

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A pencil shaped semiconductor, measuring only a few hundred nanometers in diameter, is what researches from the Center for Quantum Devices, Niels Bohr Institute, at University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with Microsoft Quantum researchers, have used to uncover a new route to topological superconductivity and Majorana zero modes in a study recently published in Science.

The new route that the researchers discovered uses the phase winding around the circumference of a cylindrical superconductor surrounding a semiconductor, an approach they call "a conceptual breakthrough".

"The result may provide a useful route toward the use of Majorana zero modes as a basis of protected qubits for quantum information. We do not know if these wires themselves will be useful, or if just the ideas will be useful," says Charles Marcus, Villum Kann Rasmussen Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute and Scientific Director of Microsoft Quantum Lab in Copenhagen.

"What we have found appears to be a much easier way of creating Majorana zero modes, where you can switch them on and off, and that can make a huge difference"; says postdoctoral research fellow, Saulius Vaitieknas, who was the lead experimentalist on the study.

The new research merges two already known ideas used in the world of quantum mechanics: Vortex-based topological superconductors and the one-dimensional topological superconductivity in nanowires.

"The significance of this result is that it unifies different approaches to understanding and creating topological superconductivity and Majorana zero modes", says professor Karsten Flensberg, Director of the Center for Quantum Devices.

Looking back in time, the findings can be described as an extension of a 50-year old piece of physics known as the Little-Parks effect. In the Little-Parks effect, a superconductor in the shape of a cylindrical shell adjusts to an external magnetic field, threading the cylinder by jumping to a "vortex state" where the quantum wavefunction around the cylinder carries a twist of its phase.

Charles M. Marcus, Saulius Vaitieknas, and Karsten Flensberg from the Niels Bohr Institute at the Microsoft Quantum Lab in Copenhagen.

What was needed was a special type of material that combined semiconductor nanowires and superconducting aluminum. Those materials were developed in the Center for Quantum Devices in the few years. The particular wires for this study were special in having the superconducting shell fully surround the semiconductor. These were grown by professor Peter Krogstrup, also at the Center for Quantum Devices and Scientific Director of the Microsoft Quantum Materials Lab in Lyngby.

The research is the result of the same basic scientific wondering that through history has led to many great discoveries.

"Our motivation to look at this in the first place was that it seemed interesting and we didn't know what would happen", says Charles Marcus about the experimental discovery, which was confirmed theoretically in the same publication. Nonetheless, the idea may indicate a path forward for quantum computing.

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New way of developing topological superconductivity discovered - Chemie.de

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Hot Qubits Could Deliver a Quantum Computing Breakthrough – Popular Mechanics

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Researchers in Australia have brought quantum computing up to a bewildering 1.5 Kelvin, which may not sound like much until you consider existing technologies require supercooling to almost absolute zero. These scientists say they can quantum compute in an environment 10 times warmer that costs millions less in expensive supercooling equipment.

In the most common form of quantum computing research, scientists use qubitsquantum bits, which are often a single atom of an element with a carefully controlled electronthat must be cooled, ideally, to absolute zero to achieve superconductivity. Absolute zero is impossible, but scientists can get very, very close, and theyre getting slightly even closer all the time.

Each new step costs more money, and often more lead time, for the supercooled tech to get down to temperature. At Sydneys University of New South Wales (UNSW), researchers have reframed the qubit question in order to make a different paradigm. On a relatively traditional silicon chip, pairs of quantum dots, which are artificial atoms that take the form of microscopic crystals, are arranged and combined with nano-scale magnets to help electrons zoom back and forth.

A second group developed a very similar idea at the same time, in a kind of convergent evolution of quantum computing research. The first and second papers, published simultaneously in Nature, both represent results on an underlying silicon technology UNSW says it developed in 2014.

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Using an almost consumer-ready silicon chip means the qubits can be manufactured through established factory channels. While the temperature is the big breakthrough here, the production-friendly tech is also a huge advantage.

Cooling a traditional quantum computer to near absolute zero is already costly, but thats just the beginning. Every qubit pair added to the system increases the total heat generated, and added heat leads to errors, lead researcher Andrew Dzurak said in a statement. Thats primarily why current designs need to be kept so close to absolute zero.

Its also why quantum computers are still so tiny. The cheapest desktop PC we could find on a leading consumer electronics site has an Intel Celeron processor (yes, really!), and this 22-year-old CPU technology could hold several entire quantum computers in just a single container of bits passing through in a fraction of a second. For quantum computers to really both surpass traditional CPUs and reach their promised potential, they need to get huge compared to what researchers are putting together today.

From UNSW's statement:

Turning a handful of bits into millions is dauntingbut its much less so at 1.5 Kelvin than it is at absolute zero. And during the next 10 years, many more barriers are likely to come down.

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Hot Qubits Could Deliver a Quantum Computing Breakthrough - Popular Mechanics

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Quantum Computing With Particles Of Light: A $215 Million Gamble – Forbes

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PsiQuantum is a little-known quantum computing startup, however it recently had no trouble raising almost a quarter of a billion dollars from Microsoft's M12 venture fund and other investors. That is in addition to a whopping $230 million it received last year from a fund formed by Andy Rubin, developer of the Android operating system.

The company was founded in 2016 by British professor Jeremy OBrien and three other academics, Terry Rudolph, Mark Thompson, and Pete Shadbolt. In just a few years, they have quietly grown the company from a few employees to a robust technical staff of more than 100.

Compared to today's modest quantum computing capabilities, PsiQuantum's elevator pitch for investors sounds like a line from a science fiction movie.O'Brien not only says he is going to build a fault-tolerant quantum computer with a staggering one million qubits, he also says he is going to do it within five years.O'Brien's technology of choice for this claim is silicon photonics, which uses particles of light called photons to perform quantum calculations. Theoretically, photons behave as both waves and particles,but that's a subject for another article.Quantum computing technologies in use today are primarily superconductors and trapped ion. However, there is plenty of research that shows photonics holds a lot of promise.

A look at qubit technologies

While classical computers use magnetic bits to depict ones and zeros for computation, quantum computers use a variety of other technologies to make quantum bits called qubits.

PsiQuantum's objective to build a quantum computer with a million qubits is a colossal undertaking. For perspective, today's biggest and best quantum computers have less than 100 qubits. Even that number stretches the limits of present-day quantum science.Google recently achieved quantum supremacy by performing a difficult computational task in a matter of seconds that would have taken a classical computer thousands of years to complete. Moreover, it only took a mere 54 qubits for that historic achievement.

I asked Robert Niffenegger, a research scientist at MIT Lincoln Labs, for his thoughts on PsiQuantum and its goal of a million qubits.Niffenegger said, "By setting a goal of a million qubits they emphasize that scale and integration are the only path forward and flaunt the fact that existing nano-photonics based on CMOS fabrication technologies is able to fabricate thousands of optical components on a single chip. However, even if they had very high-performance photonics on a single photonic chip the size of a wafer,that would at best get you maybe thousands of qubits."

Superconducting qubits

Superconducting qubits, the most commonly used technology for quantum computing, are the foundation of those built by Google, Intel, IBM, and Rigetti.The devices are basically small coils fabricated on chips that resemble those found in classical computers.

Optical and SEM images of a transmon qubit

Quantum effects kick in when the coils are cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero and become superconductors. At that temperature, current flows resistance free in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction and represents either a one or a zero or a superposition of everything between one and zero.

Superconducting qubits can be manufactured using existing chip fabrication techniques. A few drawbacks with superconducting qubits include:

1.)they lose their quantum states quickly, limiting the number of sequential calculations that can be performed on a problem.

2.)they can only connect to their nearest qubit neighbor. Several connections are needed to reach a distant qubit, much like steppingstones placed across a stream.Unfortunately, those extra connections slow down calculations and limit the complexity of problems that can be solved.

Trapped ion qubits

Trapped ions are the oldest qubit technology, dating back to the 1990s.Honeywell and IonQ are the most prominent commercial users of trapped ion qubits.Atomic clocks also use trapped-ion technology.

String of 14 trapped and entangled ions

Honeywell and IonQ use qubits formed from an isotope of rare-earth metal called ytterbium, although other materials can also be used. Precision lasers remove an outer electron from an atom of ytterbium to create an ion. Lasers are also used like tweezers to move ions around. Once in position, oscillating voltage fields hold the ions in place.

Compared to superconducting qubits, ions maintain their quantum states for a very long time. The longer a quantum state can be maintained, the more complex of a computation can be performed. Honeywell leveraged this attribute and recently announced it would have the world's most powerful quantum computer when its 8-qubit trapped ion machine is released in a few months.

Using light to make qubits

Instead of using coils or ions as qubits, PsiQuantum plans to build its quantum computer using single particles of light, called photons.

A photon can be vertically polarized to represent a one, or horizontally polarized as a zero, or even diagonally polarized to represent a superposition of both one and zero.

PsiQuantum's secret sauce is a 2009 research paper written by its founder, Jeremy OBrien.This research and other quantum tricks allow qubits to be encoded by photons traveling at the speed of light.

11.5 billion light-years away. Glowing hydrogen gas in the blob is in the Lyman-alpha optical image ... [+] ( yellow). On the right, a galaxy located in the blob is visible in a broadband optical image (white) and an infra-red image (red)

A significant advantage of photon qubits is that they maintain their quantum states for a very long time. Photons from distant stars and galaxies travel for thousands and even billions of years before reaching our eyes. A good example is a Lyman-alpha blob.Photons from the blob are still polarized in their original state when they reach earth after traveling for 11.5 billion years.

In addition to PsiQuantum, several other research groups are trying to figure out how to scale up photonic computers to more qubits.However, unlike PsiQuantum, none have a stated goal of a million qubits.

6 m diameter carbon filament, compared to 50 m diameter human hair

A photon qubit is very small.It has a wavelength of about one-millionth of a meter (m). In some ways, a photon's small size is an advantage, but in other ways its size creates obstacles that PsiQuantum must overcome to reach a million qubits.

Photons travel at the speed of light (after all, they are particles of light ), and that makes them very hard to control.

Imagine trying to manipulate something the size of a virus as it zips past you at a speed of 300,000,000 meters per second. Unlike superconducting qubits that are fixed in place and ions that remain stationary, photons are always in motion. It will be challenging to juggle the state of millions of blazing fast photons while simultaneously trying to read, control, and manipulate each one of them.

Observations and conclusions

Here are my thoughts and conclusions from an analyst's perspective:

1.PsiQuantum claims it will be able to do things in five years that many quantum experts predict will take 7 to 10 years or more to accomplish.

2.Silicon photonics appears to be a promising technology to build a quantum computer capable of solving complex problems that are far beyond the capabilities of classical supercomputers.Niffenegger also shared his thoughts on this: "I believe they [PsiQuantum] do have a path to becoming the 'supreme' heavyweight champion of the quantum crown, and I think that if they publish some smaller-scale demonstrations, then other people will start to believe it too."

3.Having Microsoft as a strategic investor will provide PsiQuantum with access to many critical resources needed to build a silicon photonic quantum computer.

4.Error correction is a significant quantum computing problem for every present-day qubit technology.According to publicly available information, PsiQuantum places a great deal of emphasis on error correction.That means a large portion of the million-qubit goal will likely be devoted to monitoring and correcting errors.For today's error prone qubits, it is estimated that thousands of error correcting qubits are required for every computation qubit.

5.Even ifPsiQuantum is only able to produce a thousand error corrected qubits, they will have created a fault-tolerant quantum computer that might change the world. It could create new drugs, design new materials, model DNA, and make thousands of other major scientific, medical, and commercial breakthroughs.

6.Remember, Microsoft had similar optimistic goals as PsiQuantum when it began research on a topological quantum computer.That was a decade ago. Tangible results today: zero.

PsiQuantum has made some outrageous claims that I believe will end in one of two ways. Either the company revolutionizes the space or flames out like few startups have flamed out flushing its investors time and money down the drain.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.

Disclosure: Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analyst firms, provides or has provided paid research, analysis, advising, or consulting to many high-tech companies in the industry, including Amazon.com, Advanced Micro Devices, Apstra,ARM Holdings, Aruba Networks, AWS, A-10 Strategies, Bitfusion,Cisco Systems, Dell, DellEMC, Dell Technologies, Diablo Technologies, Digital Optics, Dreamchain, Echelon, Ericsson, Foxconn, Frame, Fujitsu, Gen Z Consortium, Glue Networks, GlobalFoundries,Google,HPInc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HuaweiTechnologies,IBM, Intel, Interdigital, Jabil Circuit, Konica Minolta, Lattice Semiconductor, Lenovo, Linux Foundation, MACOM (Applied Micro), MapBox, Mavenir, Mesosphere,Microsoft,National Instruments, NetApp, NOKIA, Nortek,NVIDIA, ON Semiconductor, ONUG, OpenStack Foundation, Panasas, Peraso, Pixelworks, Plume Design, Portworx, Pure Storage,Qualcomm, Rackspace, Rambus, Rayvolt E-Bikes, Red Hat, Samsung Electronics, Silver Peak, SONY, Springpath, Sprint, Stratus Technologies, Symantec, Synaptics, Syniverse, TensTorrent, Tobii Technology, Twitter, Unity Technologies, Verizon Communications,Vidyo, Wave Computing, Wellsmith, Xilinx, Zebra, which may be cited in this article.

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Boffins claim to have found path to 'real-world applications' by running hot

Dr Henry Yang and Professor Andrew Dzurak: hot qubits are a game-changer for quantum computing development. Pic credit: Paul Henderson-Kelly

Scientists in Australia are claiming to have made a breakthrough in the field of quantum computing which could ease the technology's progress to affordability and mass production.

A paper by researchers led by Professor Andrew Dzurak at Sydney's University of New South Wales published in Nature today says they have demonstrated quantum computing at temperatures 15 times warmer than previously thought possible.

Temperature is important to quantum computing because quantum bits (qubits) the equivalent classical computing bits running the computer displaying this story can exist in superconducting circuits or form within semiconductors only at very low temperatures.

Most quantum computers being developed by the likes of IBM and Google form qubits at temperatures within 0.1 degrees above absolute zero or -273.15C (-459.67F). These solid-state platforms require cooling to extremely low temperatures because vibrations generated by heat disrupt the qubits, which can impede performance. Getting this cold requires expensive dilution refrigerators.

Artistic representation of quantum entanglement. Pic credit: Luca Petit for QuTech

But Dzurak's team has shown that they can maintain stable "hotbits" at temperatures up to 15 times higher than existing technologies. That is a sweltering 1.5 Kelvin (-271.65C). It might not seem like much, but it could make a big difference when it comes to scaling quantum computers and getting them one step closer to practical applications.

"For most solid-state qubit technologies for example, those using superconducting circuits or semiconductor spins scaling poses a considerable challenge because every additional qubit increases the heat generated, whereas the cooling power of dilution refrigerators is severely limited at their operating temperature. As temperatures rise above 1 Kelvin, the cost drops substantially and the efficiency improves. In addition, using silicon-based platforms is attractive, as this can assist integration into classical systems that use existing silicon-based hardware," the paper says.

Keeping temperature at around 1.5 Kelvin can be achieved using a few thousand dollars' worth of refrigeration, rather than the millions of dollars needed to cool chips to 0.1 Kelvin, Dzurak said.

"Our new results open a path from experimental devices to affordable quantum computers for real-world business and government applications," he added.

The researchers used "isotopically enriched silicon" but the proof of concept published today promises cheaper and more robust quantum computing which can be built on hardware using conventional silicon chip foundries, they said.

Nature published another independent study by Dr Menno Veldhorst and colleagues at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands which details a quantum circuit that operates at 1.1 Kelvin, confirming the breakthrough.

If made more practical and cheaper, quantum computers could represent a leap forward in information science. Whereas the bit in classical computing either represents a one or a zero, qubits superimpose one and zero, representing both states at the same time. This creates an exponential improvement in performances such that so eight qubits theoretically have two to eight times the performance of eight bits. For example, Google and NASA have demonstrated that a quantum computer with 1,097 qubits outperformed existing supercomputers by more than 3,600 times and personal computers by 100 million.

While the experimental nature and cost of quantum computing means it is unlikely to make it into any business setup soon, anything to make the approach more practical could make a big difference to scientific computational challenges such as protein folding. The problem of how to predict the structure of a protein from its amino acid sequence is important for understanding how proteins function in a wide range of biological processes and could potentially help design better medicines.

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Published: 17 Apr 2020

AWS, Microsoft and other IaaS providers have jumped on the quantum computing bandwagon as they try to get ahead of the curve on this emerging technology.

Developers use quantum computing to encode problems as qubits, which compute multiple combinations of variables at once rather than exploring each possibility discretely. In theory, this could allow researchers to quickly solve problems involving different combinations of variables, such as breaking encryption keys, testing the properties of different chemical compounds or simulating different business models. Researchers have begun to demonstrate real-world examples of how these early quantum computers could be put to use.

However, this technology is still being developed, so experts caution that it could take more than a decade for quantum computing to deliver practical value. In the meantime, there are a few cloud services, such as Amazon Bracket and Microsoft Quantum, that aim to get developers up to speed on writing quantum applications.

Quantum computing in the cloud has the potential to disrupt industries in a similar way as other emerging technologies, such as AI and machine learning. But quantum computing is still being established in university classrooms and career paths, said Bob Sutor, vice president of IBM Quantum Ecosystem Development. Similarly, major cloud providers are focusing primarily on education at this early stage.

"The cloud services today are aimed at preparing the industry for the soon-to-arrive day when quantum computers will begin being useful," said Itamar Sivan, co-founder and CEO of Quantum Machines, an orchestration platform for quantum computing.

There's still much to iron out regarding quantum computing and the cloud, but the two technologies appear to be a logical fit, for now.

Cloud-based quantum computing is more difficult to pull off than AI, so the ramp up will be slower and the learning curve steeper, said Martin Reynolds, distinguished vice president of research at Gartner. For starters, quantum computers require highly specialized room conditions that are dramatically different from how cloud providers build and operate their existing data centers.

Reynolds believes practical quantum computers are at least a decade away. The biggest drawback lies in aligning the quantum state of qubits in the computer with a given problem, especially since quantumcomputersstill haven't been proven to solve problems better than traditional computers.

Coders also must learn new math and logic skills to utilize quantum computing. This makes it hard for them since they can't apply traditional digital programming techniques. IT teams need to develop specialized skills to understand how to apply quantum computing in the cloud so they can fine tune the algorithms, as well as the hardware, to make this technology work.

Current limitations aside, the cloud is an ideal way to consume quantum computing, because quantum computing has low I/O but deep computation, Reynolds said. Because cloud vendors have the technological resources and a large pool of users, they will inevitably be some of the first quantum-as-a-service providers and will look for ways to provide the best software development and deployment stacks.

Quantum computing could even supplement general compute and AI services cloud providers currently offer, said Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions.In that scenario, the cloud would integrate with classical computing cloud resources in a co-processing environment.

The cloud plays two key roles in quantum computing today, according to Hyoun Park, CEO and principal analyst at Amalgam Insights. The first is to provide an application development and test environment for developers to simulate the use of quantum computers through standard computing resources.

The second is to offer access to the few quantum computers that are currently available, in the way mainframe leasing was common a generation ago. This improves the financial viability of quantum computing, since multiple users can increase machine utilization.

It takes significant computing power to simulate quantum algorithm behavior from a development and testing perspective. For the most part, cloud vendors want to provide an environment to develop quantum algorithms before loading these quantum applications onto dedicated hardware from other providers, which can be quite expensive.

However, classical simulations of quantum algorithms that use large numbers of qubits are not practical. "The issue is that the size of the classical computer needed will grow exponentially with the number of qubits in the machine," said Doug Finke, publisher of the Quantum Computing Report.So, a classical simulation of a 50-qubit quantum computer would require a classical computer with roughly 1 petabyte of memory. This requirement will double with every additional qubit.

Nobody knows which approach is best, or which materials are best. We're at the Edison light bulb filament stage. Martin ReynoldsDistinguished vice president of research at Gartner

But classical simulations for problems using a smaller number of qubits are useful both as a tool to teach quantum algorithms to students and also for quantum software engineers to test and debug algorithms with "toy models" for their problem, Finke said.Once they debug their software, they should be able to scale it up to solve larger problems on a real quantum computer.

In terms of putting quantum computing to use, organizations can currently use it to support last-mile optimization, encryption and other computationally challenging issues, Park said. This technology could also aid teams across logistics, cybersecurity, predictive equipment maintenance, weather predictions and more. Researchers can explore multiple combinations of variables in these kinds of problems simultaneously, whereas a traditional computer needs to compute each combination separately.

However, there are some drawbacks to quantum computing in the cloud. Developers should proceed cautiously when experimenting with applications that involve sensitive data, said Finke. To address this, many organizations prefer to install quantum hardware in their own facilities despite the operational hassles, Finke said.

Also, a machine may not be immediately available when a quantum developer wants to submit a job through quantum services on the public cloud. "The machines will have job queues and sometimes there may be several jobs ahead of you when you want to run your own job," Finke said. Some of the vendors have implemented a reservation capability so a user can book a quantum computer for a set time period to eliminate this problem.

IBM was first to market with its Quantum Experience offering, which launched in 2016 and now has over 15 quantum computers connected to the cloud. Over 210,000 registered users have executed more than 70 billion circuits through the IBM Cloud and published over 200 papers based on the system, according to IBM.

IBM also started the Qiskit open source quantum software development platform and has been building an open community around it. According to GitHub statistics, it is currently the leading quantum development environment.

In late 2019, AWS and Microsoft introduced quantum cloud services offered through partners.

Microsoft Quantum provides a quantum algorithm development environment, and from there users can transfer quantum algorithms to Honeywell, IonQ or Quantum Circuits Inc. hardware. Microsoft's Q# scripting offers a familiar Visual Studio experience for quantum problems, said Michael Morris, CEO of Topcoder, an on-demand digital talent platform.

Currently, this transfer involves the cloud providers installing a high-speed communication link from their data center to the quantum computer facilities, Finke said. This approach has many advantages from a logistics standpoint, because it makes things like maintenance, spare parts, calibration and physical infrastructure a lot easier.

Amazon Braket similarly provides a quantum development environment and, when generally available, will provide time-based pricing to access D-Wave, IonQ and Rigetti hardware. Amazon says it will add more hardware partners as well. Braket offers a variety of different hardware architecture options through a common high-level programming interface, so users can test out the machines from the various partners and determine which one would work best with their application, Finke said.

Google has done considerable core research on quantum computing in the cloud and is expected to launch a cloud computing service later this year. Google has been more focused on developing its in-house quantum computing capabilities and hardware rather than providing access to these tools to its cloud users, Park said. In the meantime, developers can test out quantum algorithms locally using Google's Circ programming environment for writing apps in Python.

In addition to the larger offerings from the major cloud providers, there are several alternative approaches to implementing quantum computers that are being provided through the cloud.

D-Wave is the furthest along, with a quantum annealer well-suited for many optimization problems. Other alternatives include QuTech, which is working on a cloud offering of its small quantum machine utilizing its spin qubits technology. Xanadu is another and is developing a quantum machine based on a photonic technology.

Researchers are pursuing a variety of approaches to quantum computing -- using electrons, ions or photons -- and it's not yet clear which approaches will pan out for practical applications first.

"Nobody knows which approach is best, or which materials are best. We're at the Edison light bulb filament stage, where Edison reportedly tested thousands of ways to make a carbon filament until he got to one that lasted 1,500 hours," Reynolds said. In the meantime, recent cloud offerings promise to enable developers to start experimenting with these different approaches to get a taste of what's to come.

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