With the launch of multiple inventions of quantum computing since the end of last year, scientists have now created a computer chip that can handle a few thousand qubits (the ‘language of quantum computing’) compared to current technology that can handle only a few dozen. The chip operates at a temperature of almost perfect zero, could pave the way for next-generation quantum computers.
The chip, developed by engineers from the University of Sydney in collaboration with Microsoft, was unveiled in a study published in Nature Electronics. “To realize the potential of quantum computing, machines need to run thousands, if not millions, of thousands,” said David Riley, a professor of chips and engineering at both Microsoft and the University of Sydney.
“The world’s largest quantum computer currently only works with 50 or more quotes,” he said. “This small scale is partly due to the limitations of the physical architecture that controls the quits.” “Our new chip puts an end to that limitation.”
The chip technically called a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor or CMOS for short. A CMOS chip contains a tiny memory that stores a computer’s BIOS settings (a program that controls most of the background tasks), transmitting important instructions that control vital functions and settings. Sitting in the center of the motherboard, CMOS chips are an integral part of a working computer.
However, it a difficult task to build one that can handle the frenzy of quantum information. Traditional computers use bits, which are units of binary-based information and can be in either an ‘on’ state or an ‘off’ state, using quit instead of quantum computers. One quote introduces a new state: both ‘off’ and ‘on’ at the same time. This creates three states instead of two, so that a higher amount of data transferred.
The problem with this is that quantum machines must kept cool – really, cool. In this design, the chip must kept cool at 100 milliliters or –degrees Celsius, which is almost perfect zero. Heat quantum introduces errors with data, so extreme winter is the only way we can transfer data properly. In addition, quantum data usually transferred by a mess of wires, which is inappropriate for the interior of computers. This new CMOS chip uses a design that requires only two cables, greatly improving the output. In addition, the chip can kept cool using a commercially available reduced refrigerator.
“Our device removes all those wires. Carrying only two wires of data as input, it can generate control signals for thousands of qubits,”said the joint inventor of the chip, Dr Kushal Das said. “It changes everything for quantum computing.”
This chip is capable of controlling thousands of qubits, breaking the input-output dilemma that researchers still hold on to. There is much more we need to do before we can get a functional quantum computer – power drawing is high, scalability is still a problem and qubits transfer still needs to improve reliability. However, it marks one of the most advanced quantum chips produced to date and is a huge leap forward in terms of the quantum age.