Commercial quantum computing could be 5 years away from another breakthrough

Sydney-based company Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC) has built the first silicon quantum computing integrated circuit fabricated at the atomic scale, in what has been billed as a ‘major breakthrough’ on the road to quantum supremacy, a researcher reveals. Press release.

The atomic-scale integrated circuit, which functions as an analog quantum processor, could be SQC’s biggest milestone since announcing in 2012 that it had built the world’s first single-atom transistor.

The company claims that the IC was successfully manufactured two years ahead of schedule. Its founder says the new development indicates we could be just 5 years away from seeing commercial quantum computing products.

A new quantum integrated circuit could allow researchers to create never-before-seen materials

After fabricating their atomic-scale circuit, the SQC team successfully used it to model the quantum states of a small, organized molecule of polyacetylene. This, they say, provides definitive proof that the circuit can be used to model quantum systems with incredible accuracy.

In the statement, Michelle Simmon, a professor at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and founder of the SQC, said that “conventional computers today struggle to simulate even relatively small molecules due to of the large number of possible interactions between atoms”.

“SQC’s development of atomic-scale circuit technology will enable the company and its customers to build quantum models for a range of new materials, from pharmaceuticals to battery materials or catalysts,” she continued. “It won’t be long before we can start realizing new materials that have never existed before.”

The SQC says the integrated circuit addresses a challenge postulated by pioneering theoretical physicist Professor Richard Feynman in 1959. He postulated that to understand how nature works, you must be able to control the matter from which it is built on an atomic scale.

Michelle Simmons: Commercial quantum computing products could be five years from now

Simmons founded SQC in 2017 with $83 million in seed funding from UNSW, Telstra, Commonwealth Bank, New South Wales and federal governments. Quantum computing has the potential to change many fields, including physics, engineering, and computer science. Companies such as Google and IBM claim to have achieved quantum supremacy, although their machines are still far from reaching consumers and are still in the early stages of development and research.

In an interview with ABC News Breakfast, Simmons said that his company’s integrated circuit timeline mirrors that of conventional computers. “We had the first transistor in 1947, the first integrated circuit in 1958 – that was 11 years later, and then it took about 5 years before they had commercial products for a typical computer,” said- she declared.

“Now we had our first atomic-scale transistor in 2012, and we were looking for the IC by the end of 2023, but we got it by the end of 2021, so two years ahead of schedule. expected,” Simmons continued. “It lets us know that we have about five years to go before we start seeing commercial products.”

Now that it has built its quantum integrated circuit, SQC aims to develop and produce its hardware on a larger scale. Yet, according to Simmons, the focus is on quality over quantity. She said the company’s integrated circuit was made possible by a “extremely precise manufacturing technology that opens the door to a whole new world”, and that “it’s a big step towards building a commercial quantum computer.”

Sherry J. Basler