French researchers at risk of quantum computing milestones

Researchers at the French Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (CEA) in Grenoble are confident that they will reach a key milestone later this year in their quest to build quantum computers.

CEA’s Maud Vinet and Silvano De Franceschi, along with CNRS’s Tristan Meunier, are leading a team of scientists to build silicon-based quantum machines. The first step is to operate a 2-cubit network in the coming months.

How Quantum Computing Works

Over 50 people with expertise in diverse disciplines such as micro and nanoelectronics, integrated circuits, quantum engineering, and quantum physics are part of this project, which began in 2016 with the creation of basic silicon qubits. ..

A qubit is a unit of information in quantum computing. They are quantum equivalents of bits. Unlike traditional computing, where bits can exist as 0 or 1, in quantum systems, bits have both values ​​at the same time. This property is called superposition.

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Another important quantum property is called entanglement. This refers to the near-instantaneous effect of two cubits on each other, even at distant locations, after they are first combined. Entanglement and superposition give quantum computers incredible computing power.

However, continuing to entangle qubits is a major challenge. “It’s susceptible to environmental interference. Any failure, thermal, electrical, or mechanical, can cause an error,” Defrancheski said.

One way to limit the errors caused by these factors is to operate the qubit in deep freeze mode.

“When qubits are cooled to a sufficiently low temperature (typically less than a few Kelvin), they are unaffected by unwanted thermal excitations and can maintain coherence,” says Vinet.

The qubit cooling system uses the same principles as a home refrigerator, but is much larger and much more complex.

CEA has several cryostats that use helium to achieve temperatures from 15 millikelvin to 1 Kelvin.

This corresponds to 272 degrees below the freezing point of water. In addition to the cryostats mentioned above, CEA also has a cryogenic prober capable of performing automated measurements of 300 mm silicon wafers below 2 Kelvin or minus 271 ° C. There are only two such machines in the world.

French approach

There are four main approaches to making qubits: photons, trapped ions, superconductors, and semiconductors like silicon.

Vinet and DeFranceschi have taken the final approach of using the magnetic moments of the electrons in silicon to create two different states of the qubit. They chose silicon, although it appears to lag behind other silicon in terms of the number of qubits that interact in the network.

“The other three approaches seem to have gone a step further, but we’re sticking to silicon because building a viable quantum computer isn’t a short-term competition. Today’s position doesn’t matter. More importantly, the future. “

According to Vinet, scalability will be key to building a practical quantum computer. “In this respect, there is no better candidate than silicon, the center of the semiconductor industry. Silicon can be used to produce millions or billions of cubics that can be assembled in a relatively compact system. It is also convenient for equipment. “

In addition, according to De Franceschi, when it comes to performance, silicon qubits are on par with other platforms in terms of fidelity and operating speed. Defrancheski argues that while some of the other approaches may be appropriate, they may not be equally appropriate for effective, large-scale, and easy manufacturing.

“After the processor grows in size, we need to consider how much we can scale up to handle qubit control. Others, such as possible interference when manipulating qubits. There are problems. A successful approach is the best approach for everything. These problems, “he says.

CEA researchers have their own advantages because both the physics and engineering requirements needed to build a quantum computer are available under the same roof.

While De Franceschi and his team are working on perfecting manufacturing and interactions between qubits, Vinet and his group are working to make qubits truly scalable and to build other components of quantum computers. We are working in parallel with.

“What we are trying to do here is to build a full-stack quantum computer. We develop quantum chips, control electronics, quantum algorithm implementations, and interfaces that convert algorithms into electrical signals. We do, “says Vinet.

Quantum appeal

Quantum computers are of great interest not only to laboratories, but also to IT giants, start-ups and governments. In January 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a € 1.8 billion quantum program initiative to support the research and development of quantum technology.

The great attraction of quantum computing lies in the promise that even the world’s most powerful supercomputers can easily perform well in certain types of computations.

“It is expected to solve complex problems such as protein simulations, aircraft airflow calculations, and the discovery of new materials such as room-temperature superconductors,” Vignette said. He added that he didn’t know yet.

Originally published on RFI

French researchers at risk of quantum computing milestones

Source link French researchers at risk of quantum computing milestones

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