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World news – The study shows that quantum computers with factory-made silicon chips hold promise

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March 31, 2021

from University College London

The qubit is the building block of the quantum computer, analogous to the bit in classical computers. In order to be able to carry out error-free calculations, quantum computers of the future will probably need at least millions of qubits. The latest study, published in PRX Quantum magazine, suggests that these computers could be made with industrial grade silicon chips using existing manufacturing processes rather than applying new manufacturing processes or even newly discovered particles.

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For the study, the researchers were able to isolate and measure the quantum state of a single electron (the qubit) in a silicon transistor made using CMOS technology similar to that used to make chips in computer processors.

In addition, it was found that the spin of the electron remains stable for up to nine seconds. The next step is to use a similar manufacturing technology to show how an array of qubits can interact to perform quantum logic operations.

Professor John Morton (London Center for Nanotechnology at UCL), co-founder of Quantum Motion, said, « We’re hacking the process of creating qubits so that the same technology that makes the chip in a smartphone can be used to build quantum computers.

 » It took 70 years for transistor development to get there where we are in the computer today, and we can’t spend another 70 years inventing new manufacturing methods for building quantum computers. We need millions of qubits and an ultra-scalable architecture to build. Our discovery gives us a blueprint to shorten our path to manufacturing quantum chips on an industrial scale. « 

The experiments were carried out by Ph.D. student Virginia Ciriano Tejel (London Center for Nanotechnology at UCL) and colleagues who work in a low-temperature laboratory. During operation, the chips are kept in a chilled state and kept to a fraction one degree above absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius).

Ms. Ciriano Tejel said: « Every physics student learns in textbooks that electrons behave like tiny magnets with strange quantum properties, but nothing prepares you to be amazed in the lab before, when you can observe this ‘spin’ of a single electron with your own eyes, sometimes up, sometimes down. It’s exciting to be a scientist trying to understand the world while being part of the evolution of quantum computers. « 

A quantum computer uses physical laws that are normally only seen at the atomic and subatomic level (for example, that particles can be in two places at the same time). Quantum computers could be more powerful than today’s supercomputers and perform complex calculations that would otherwise would be practically impossible.

The applications of the quantum computer, while different from conventional computers, allow us to be more accurate and faster in extremely challenging areas such as drug development and combating climate change, as well as everyday problems with a large number of variables be – just like in nature – like transport and logistics.

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Ref: https://phys.org

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