The concept of building a quantum computer with topological qubits had been knocking around Microsoft for nearly 15 years.
At the companys Redmond campus, later expanding into its Station Q centre at the University of California, researchers investigated this complex, yet beautiful mathematical theory as Microsofts quantum guru Michael Freedman once described it.
It remained just that a beautiful theory for years. Then something changed.
Suddenly in late 2016, Microsoft announced Station Q would expand to eight labs worldwide including one at the Quantum Nanoscience Laboratory at the University of Sydney. Four heavyweight academic hires were made. An ‘inflection point’ had been reached, a release stated.
Why are they now switching on? How much should I read into that? says Professor David Reilly, director of Station Qs new Sydney lab. I think you can read plenty into that.
Is Anyon out there?
The topological approach to forming qubits uses quasiparticles called non-abellian anyons.
We’ve realised that the only way to really scale is to build much better qubits. Qubits that are inherently, intrinsically immune to noise and immune to disturbances from the environment, says Reilly.
In most approaches to building quantum systems, information is encoded in the properties of particles. That makes the systems very fragile as any disturbances from the environment can destroy a particles quantum state.
According to Microsoft, topological qubits are better able to withstand heat and electrical noise, which allows them to remain in a stable quantum state for longer. By encoding the information not on the quasiparticle but in the order the positions of the anyons are swapped around (called braiding), topological qubits offer a more viable way to make a scalable, usable quantum computer.
The quasiparticles themselves remain something of a riddle. Non-abellian anyons cant be seen with any kind of microscope but they can be measured with high-precision devices. Probably. Certainly there is no consensus among physicists as to whether they are real or not.
As Microsofts Alex Bocharov confidently put it to Nature, the company is pretty sure that they exist.
We reached a point where the experiments were convincing enough that now we should actually try and construct technology from it. And that’s where we are today, Reilly adds.
Faith at scale
Backing topological qubits is as much about belief in the approach, Reilly says, as doubt in all the others.
It’s a double-edged sword. For me personally some of the decision to go in this direction is born out of a pessimistic view. It’s faith in this approach and the reality is it’s pessimism that the other existing approaches can really go the distance, he says.
Google and IBM back the superconducting loop approach to building qubits, while Intel and the Commonwealth Bank and Telstra backed Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology at UNSW in Sydney, are pursuing a silicon-based method.
The difference between demonstrating the basic operation of one single device in a university lab and publishing a very nice paper, and what it’s going to take to bring that technology to scale I think these are vastly different activities, Reilly says. It becomes pretty depressing and I don’t see it.
The ability to scale is key to Microsofts quantum efforts. Its ambition goes way beyond the lab.
It’s all about having the fundamental building blocks that can take you to millions of qubits, Reilly says. It’s all about going the distance.
Error: Please check your email address.
Tags Sydneytopological qubitKinectquantumquantum computingTelstraHoloLensnanotechnologyStation QMicrosoftRedmondunswXboxCommonwealth Bank of Australia
More about Commonwealth BankGoogleIBMIntelMicrosoftQQuantumReillyTechnologyUniversity of SydneyUNSWXbox
- New silicon structure opens the gate to quantum computers - December 14th, 2017
- Microsoft offers developers a preview of its quantum ... - December 12th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Is the Next Big Security Risk | WIRED - December 8th, 2017
- Yale Professors Race Google and IBM to the First Quantum ... - November 16th, 2017
- IBM's processor pushes quantum computing ... - engadget.com - November 16th, 2017
- Quantum computing - news.microsoft.com - November 1st, 2017
- Intel Takes First Steps To Universal Quantum Computing - October 13th, 2017
- Qudits: The Real Future of Quantum Computing? - IEEE Spectrum - October 13th, 2017
- quantum computing - engadget.com - October 13th, 2017
- Quantum Computing | Intel Newsroom - October 13th, 2017
- What will you actually use quantum computing for? | ZDNet - October 11th, 2017
- Here's what quantum computing is and why it matters - October 6th, 2017
- Microsoft just upped its multi-million bet on quantum computing - ZDNet - September 7th, 2017
- Microsoft's Aussie quantum computing lab set to scale up next-gen ... - ARNnet - September 7th, 2017
- An Entirely New Type of Quantum Computing Has Just Been Invented - Futurism - September 7th, 2017
- Quantum computing event explores the implications for business - Cambridge Network - August 30th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Is Coming at Us Fast, So Here's Everything You Need to Know - ScienceAlert - August 27th, 2017
- How quantum mechanics can change computing - San Francisco ... - San Francisco Chronicle - August 25th, 2017
- Commonwealth Bank investing in Australia's first quantum computer company - Which-50 (blog) - August 25th, 2017
- How quantum mechanics can change computing - The Conversation US - August 23rd, 2017
- Introducing Australia's first quantum computing hardware company - Computerworld Australia - August 23rd, 2017
- IEEE Approves Standards Project for Quantum Computing ... - insideHPC - August 23rd, 2017
- $495.3 Million Quantum Computing Market 2017 by Revenue Source, Application, Industry, and Geography - Global ... - PR Newswire (press release) - August 18th, 2017
- Physicists Have Made Exotic Quantum States From Light - Futurism - August 16th, 2017
- Machine learning tackles quantum error correction - Phys.Org - August 15th, 2017
- Quantum Internet Is 13 Years Away. Wait, What's Quantum Internet? - WIRED - August 15th, 2017
- Blind quantum computing for everyone - Phys.org - Phys.Org - August 12th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Is Real, and D-Wave Just Open ... - WIRED - August 12th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Market Worth 495.3 Million USD by 2023 | 08 ... - Markets Insider - August 10th, 2017
- China uses a quantum satellite to transmit potentially unhackable data - CNBC - August 10th, 2017
- Physicists Take Big Step Towards Quantum Computing and ... - Universe Today - August 1st, 2017
- Why you might trust a quantum computer with secretseven over ... - Phys.Org - July 12th, 2017
- Quantum-computer node uses two different ion species - physicsworld.com - July 10th, 2017
- Quantum Computers vs Bitcoin How Worried Should We Be? - The Merkle - July 10th, 2017
- Quantum cheques could be a forgery-free way to move money - New Scientist - July 10th, 2017
- Technique for measuring and controlling electron state is a ... - UCLA Newsroom - July 9th, 2017
- Quantum Computers Made Even More Powerful with New microchip generating 'Qudits' - TrendinTech - July 8th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Record Broken - Wall Street Pit - July 8th, 2017
- Alkermes and IBM's quantum computing. Who'll be the big winner? Malcolm Berko - Durham Herald Sun - July 6th, 2017
- Qudits: The Real Future of Quantum Computing? - IEEE Spectrum - IEEE Spectrum - July 1st, 2017
- Google to Achieve "Supremacy" in Quantum Computing by the End of 2017 - Big Think - July 1st, 2017
- Quantum Computing Becomes More Accessible - Scientific American - July 1st, 2017
- Tektronix AWG Pulls Test into Era of Quantum Computing - Electronic Design - June 2nd, 2017
- Toward mass-producible quantum computers | MIT News - MIT News - June 2nd, 2017
- Purdue, Microsoft Partner On Quantum Computing Research | WBAA - WBAA - June 2nd, 2017
- IBM boosts power of quantum computing processors as it lays ... - www.computing.co.uk - May 22nd, 2017
- IBM makes leap in quantum computing power - ITworld - May 22nd, 2017
- The Bizarre Quantum Test That Could Keep Your Data Secure - WIRED - May 18th, 2017
- Molecular magnets closer to application in quantum computing - Next Big Future - May 15th, 2017
- Quantum computing is about to disrupt the government contracts market - Bloomberg Government (blog) - April 22nd, 2017
- Scientists: We Have Detected the Existence of a Fundamentally New State of Matter - Futurism - April 22nd, 2017
- What Sorts Of Problems Are Quantum Computers Good For? - Forbes - April 22nd, 2017
- quantum computing - WIRED UK - April 22nd, 2017
- What is Quantum Computing? Webopedia Definition - March 18th, 2017
- Here Is Everything You Need to Know About Quantum Computers - Interesting Engineering - March 18th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Market Forecast 2017-2022 | Market ... - March 18th, 2017
- Mathematician breaks down how to defend against quantum ... - Phys.Org - February 28th, 2017