Problems with semiconductors? This company switched to glass CPUs for Quantum Computing

Problems with semiconductors? This company switched to glass CPUs for Quantum Computing

IonQ, a Maryland-based company linked to Duke University and its Duke Quantum Center, recently announced the development of a new "glass-based trapped-ion" chip based on micrometer-level precision engraving in glass. of fused silica, which will contain computation units seen as reconfigurable chains of ion-based qubits. The company previously offered 32-qubit machines to its customers, including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud. The company refers to its new architecture as “reconfigurable multicore quantum architecture” (RMQA).

Credit: Walker Steere / IonQ There are several approaches currently being explored for quantum computing and IonQ has decided to follow the way of trapped ions when it comes to achieving quantum supremacy. The company is certainly not alone: ​​AQT, Honeywell and Oxford Ionics are three other companies that focus on the philosophy of trapped ions to enable the scalability of quantum computing. This particular approach works by keeping electrically charged atoms (ions) in place on a given substrate, using magnetic fields. The qubits in this case are stored in electronic states; this, in turn, allows the ions to interact with the qubits, after they have been accelerated by powerful laser beams. IonQ states that this trapped ion approach allows for the highest known life span of qubits (before their states naturally lose cohesion, thus rendering them useless for quantum computing purposes).

According to the company, the pros for this particular qubit approach - which makes use of natural qubits - don't stop there: it claims, in fact, that a large number of qubits can be connected and run in tandem in this way and the fidelity of the results is equal to 99.9%. Part of this is a direct result of the new glass-based approach: Jason Amini, who led the working group at IonQ, explains that “the purpose of an ion trap is to [1] move ions precisely, [2 ] keep them in the environment and [3] move away from quantum operation. ”

For now, the company has shown a chip with 64 qubits total. The design is relatively simple: four individual chains of 16 qubits are held in the ion trap. However, the approach has some limitations. Only 48 of those qubits are actually available as computing power, while the remaining 16 qubits (four per chain of 16) are used as "cooling" ions, correcting for system imperfections and fluctuations that may occur within the chip. .

Credit: Walker Steere / IonQ This, however, means that the system can easily be scaled the old way - just add more surface area capable of holding ion chains and you can multiply the amount of qubits in a given system. effortlessly - with perfect scaling. Peter Chapman, CEO of IonQ, explains that “the architecture makes it possible to relatively easily reach up to hundreds of qubits on a single chip.”

IonQ is on its way to becoming the first publicly traded quantum company with a valuation of two billion.