Landmark hot qubit research promises bigger, cheaper quantum computers
published 16.04.2020 07:48
A commercial-scale quantum computer would need millions of qubits, so with this generation of cooling tech, you'd need an enormous building to house a single computer – much like the early days of valve and transistor based computers – and millions upon millions of dollars worth of cooling gear.
You could even have quantum qubits sitting close to traditional silcon electronics, opening the path to much smaller, much cheaper quantum computers.
Figuring out ways to suck all heat and motion out of these tiny qubits has become a massive challenge in its own right; the current-generation quantum computers run by IBM, Google and the like use big, complex and expensive "dilution refrigerators," and while these are manageable solutions for prototypes without many qubits, they scale up very poorly.
Instead of a transistor bit, which either lets electrons through or it doesn't, quantum "qubits" use nano-scale physics to express different states; the clockwise or counter-clockwise spin of an electron, for example, or the horizontal or vertical polarization of a photon – these become your ones and zeroes.
These embryonic quantum computers, the UNSW team says, won't need specialist manufacturing plants once they're scaled up into chips with millions of qubits on them.