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World-First Quantum Research Breakthrough Allows for Full Spin Qubit Control

Stock image of a Qubit
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A research team with Denmark's University of Copenhagen has designed the world's first quantum computing system that allows for simultaneous operation of all its qubits without threatening quantum coherence. The research is being hailed as a breakthrough, clearing one of the remaining key obstacles for quantum scaling and its eventual mainstream deployment.

As quantum computing is still in its nascent stages, there are a number of technologies — and qubit types — concurrently being explored. The Danish team achieved its breakthrough in one particular type of qubit, spin qubits. You may remember these from our recent article on quantum benchmarks, where a company that is also employing the spin qubit approach, IonQ, achieved remarkable results compared to other systems.

"To get more powerful quantum processors, we have to not only increase the number of qubits, but also the number of simultaneous operations, which is exactly what we did," states Professor Kuemmeth, who directed the research.

As it stands, two important elements on the road to quantum computing are scaling, as in, adding more and more qubits (think computer cores) so that the system's processing capabilities increase; and coherence, as in, how stable the system is during workload processing, and how accurate its results are. With quantum scaling well on its way already, this research focuses on the coherence part of the equation. The scaling part of the problem has already seen incredible progress, but the same hasn't been true about the coherence part of the equation — until now.

"Now that we have some pretty good qubits, the name of the game is connecting them in circuits which can operate numerous qubits, while also being complex enough to be able to correct quantum calculation errors," says Anasua Chatterjee, a member of the research team. "Thus far, research in spin qubits has gotten to the point where circuits contain arrays of 2x2 or 3x3 qubits. The problem is that their qubits are only dealt with one at a time."

Think of it this way: you can't read the content of a letter until you actually manipulate the envelope they're in, opening it to scan what's inside. However, much in the same way that you change the state of the envelope in reaching the letter proper, qubits are changed when you try to read them. With quantum physics, manipulating a single qubit has up to now resulted in (essentially) catastrophic decoherence of the surrounding system. Basically, the results stop being accurate. This research now proves there is a way to operate and measure the entire qubit subsystem without that fall to chaos.

Chaterjee states, "The new and truly significant thing about our chip is that we can simultaneously operate and measure all qubits. This has never been demonstrated before with spin qubits — nor with many other types of qubits."

Of course, the breakthrough won't be able to stand on its own; research work is never done. As such, the researchers have identified the most pressing limitations on their approach. While the control mechanism employed by the scientists has been proven to maintain quantum coherence, its current design requires sustained, manual tuning of the 48 control electrodes that actually make the system work. The team is now looking to AI control systems that could automatically keep the system tuned with no human intervention. Perhaps this breakthrough will bring renewed focus on spin qubits as the fastest way to achieve a scalable, coherent, and efficient quantum computer. Time will tell.

  • -Fran-
    Round, round, baby. You spin me round, round.
    I have to say, this is what I was expecting to happen soon. Time to move away from "simple" electrical signaling and wave goodbye to binary.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • HWOC
    I agree, the time is now. Let us all bin our existing old fashioned computer hardware and hail the age of quantum computing! :giggle:
    Reply
  • coolitic
    Yuka said:
    Round, round, baby. You spin me round, round.
    I have to say, this is what I was expecting to happen soon. Time to move away from "simple" electrical signaling and wave goodbye to binary.

    Regards.
    You do realize that quantum computing is only good at solving quantum problems, right? Most problems would still be most efficiently solved via a classical computer even if quantum computing was fully developed.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    coolitic said:
    You do realize that quantum computing is only good at solving quantum problems, right? Most problems would still be most efficiently solved via a classical computer even if quantum computing was fully developed.
    What you said is only under the assumption that you can't build a reasonably fast space change from binary to n-bit with all its operations. From a pure computational/mathematical standpoint, there's no competition between the two. And the issue with transitions... I'm not sure there, but I'd imagine the concept of "clocks" won't apply the same way so it's hard to gauge the concept of "speed" from how you understand a CPU today and a potential one based on Quantum principles.

    And sure you'd need years to move the tooling and general expertise, but that's the case with every new technology that's a huge departure from old ones. Perhaps I'm being too optimistic, but I think it's well founded.

    Just for context: I am one of those that believes you can use Quantum computers for regular tasks. Just because they're better at something more specialized, doesn't mean you can't* make them more general purpose.

    Regards.
    Reply