This new startup built a record-breaking 256-qubit quantum computer


In 2019, Google announced that its 53-qubit machine had achieved greatness – performing a non-computer-based operation – but IBM disputed its claims. The same year, IBM launched its 53-bit quantum computer. In 2020, IonQ unveiled the 32-qubit machines that the company said were “the most powerful computers in the world.” And this week IBM unveiled its new 127-qubit quantum processor, which the media described as a “little production miracle.” “The big issue, in my view, is working,” said Jay Gambetta, vice president of IBM’s quantum computing president.

Now QuEra is said to have developed a device with more qubits than its competitors.

The ultimate goal of quantum computing, of course, is not to play Tetris but to improve old computers by solving problems that are of interest. Fans speculate that when these computers are powerful enough, perhaps in a decade or two, they will be able to bring about changes in fields such as medicine and economics, brain science and AI. Quantum machines may require thousands of units to deal with such challenges.

The amount of qubits, however, is not the only factor that is important.

QuEra also shows the evolution of its device, in which each qubit contains a single atom, which is very cold. These atoms are precisely organized into multiple lasers (experts call them optical tweezers). Installing qubits enables the machine to be repaired, to correct the problem being investigated, and to adjust it in real time during computation.

“Different problems will require atoms to be put into different systems,” said Alex Keesling, CEO of QuEra and co-founder of technology. “One of the things that is unique about our machines is that every time we drive, several times a second, we are able to redefine the geometry and connections of the qubits.”

Advantages of the atom

QuEra machines were developed from design and refined technologies for several years, under the direction of Mikhail Lukin and Markus Greiner at Harvard and Vladan Vuletić and Dirk Englund at MIT (both on the QuEra founding team). In 2017, the first model of the device from the Harvard team was used exclusively 51 section; in 2020, it showed 256-qubit machine. Two years later the QuEra team expects to reach 1,000 qubits, and then, without much change of platform, expects to continue expanding the system to hundreds of thousands of qubits.

Mario was made from qubits.

AHMED OMRAN / QUERA / HARVARD

It is the unique QuEra platform – the physical way in which the system collects, as well as the way in which information is stored and modified – that should allow for such a jump.

Although Google and IBM’s quantum computing machines use superconducting qubits, and IonQ uses closed ions, the QuEra platform uses neutral atomic algorithms that generate qubits together (i.e., “excessive”). The machines use laser pulses to connect the atoms, conveying them to the power of the “Rydberg state,” described in 1888 by Swedish scientist Johannes Rydberg – where they can perform in-depth calculations with great courage and reliability. These Rydberg method to quantum computing has been in use for decades, but technological advances – for example, with laser and photonics – were needed for this to work reliably.

“Unreasonable Entertainment”

Computer scientist Umesh Vazirani, head of the Berkeley Quantum Computation Center, when he first heard of Lukin’s research on the subject, felt “ridiculously happy” – it seemed like a strange process, though Vazirani doubted his assumptions. He said: “We have had a number of advanced technologies, such as superconductors and ion traps, which have been in operation for a long time. “Shouldn’t we think of different ways?” He looked up to John Preskill, a scientist at the California Institute of Technology and director of the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter, who confirmed to Vazirani that his fun was due.

Preskill finds Rydberg (and not just QuEra) platforms interesting because it produces qubits that are highly interconnected – “and that’s where most magic is,” he says. “I’m so happy to be able to find the unexpected in such a short time.”

In addition to comparison and understanding quantum materials and power-which Lukin calls “the first examples of the benefits of the scientific user” -the researchers also use quantum algorithms to solve the complexity problems that exist. Complete NP (that is, very difficult).


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