Scientific breakthrough could take us closer to impactful quantum computers

In a world first, scientists from the University of Sussex and Universal Quantum, a spin-off of the university, have demonstrated that quantum bits (qubits) can directly transfer between quantum computer microchips.

This breakthrough is expected to overcome a major obstacle in building quantum computers that are large and powerful enough to address the crucial societal challenges they’re envisioned to: from medicine development, to the creation of new materials and climate change solutions.

To address these issues, experts estimate that millions of qubits are required — a number currently out of reach, with existing quantum computers operating on the 100-qubit scale.

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“As quantum computers grow, we will eventually be constrained by the size of the microchip, which limits the number of quantum bits such a chip can accommodate,” Winfried Hensinger, Professor of Quantum Technologies at the University of Sussex and Chief Scientist and co-founder at Universal Quantum explained.

As a solution, the research team developed a novel technique, named “UQ Connect.” This method enabled the researchers to use electric field links that allow qubits to move from one quantum computing microchip module to another with record-breaking speed and accuracy. Specifically, the researchers were successful in transporting 2,424 ion qubits per second with a 99.999993% success rate.

“We knew a modular approach was key to make quantum computers powerful enough to solve step-changing industry problems. In demonstrating that we can connect two quantum computing chips — a bit like a jigsaw puzzle — and, crucially, that it works so well, we unlock the potential to scale up by connecting hundreds, or even thousands of quantum computing microchips,” Hensinger added.

Universal Quantum, which was recently named one of the 2022 Institute of Physics winners in the Business Startup category, has now been awarded €67 million from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to build two quantum computers that will deploy the new technology.

“The DLR contract was likely one of the largest government quantum computing contracts ever handed out to a single company. This is a huge validation of our technology. Universal Quantum is now working hard to deploy this technology in our upcoming commercial machines,” Dr Sebastian Weidt, CEO and co-founder of Universal Quantum, and Senior Lecturer in Quantum Technologies at the University of Sussex, said.

You can find the full research here.

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