Researchers from the University of Sussex and Universal Quantum have announced that they have made a major breakthrough in quantum computing that could help solve the most complex real-world problems.
What Are Quantum Computers?
Quantum computers can carry out complex calculations at high speed. Whereas traditional computers store data in binary ‘bits’ (ones and zeros) and work by creating and storing long strings of these ‘bits,’ quantum computing’s ‘qubits’ (quantum bits) can do both at once. This is because a qubit can hold a zero, a one, or any proportion of both zero and one at the same time, and an array of qubits can use something called ‘superposition’ to represent all 2^64 possible values at the same time. This means that quantum computers can store more data in fewer bits (i.e. much more information can be stored in fewer qubits), meaning information can be processed much more quickly than with a traditional computer. The power of a quantum computer is stated in its quantum volume number/how many qubits, for example, a 14-qubit system.
Quantum computers can, therefore, be used to dramatically speed up tasks that have traditionally taken a long time. The results can be astounding, e.g. where crunching numbers that would take a classical computer a week, could take a quantum computer less than a second.
Although quantum computers operate on the 100-qubit scale, experts say that millions of qubits are needed to solve important problems that are currently out of reach of today’s most powerful supercomputers.
Even though quantum computers are developing, they are becoming constrained by the size of their microchip, which limits the number of quantum bits such a chip can accommodate.
The recent breakthrough, featured in a research paper published in ‘Nature Communications,’ is that a new powerful technique (called ‘UQ Connect’) allows multiple chips to slot together like a jigsaw puzzle to make a more powerful quantum computer. This ‘UQ Connect’ technique uses electric field links to enable qubits to move from one quantum computing microchip module to another with unprecedented speed and precision.
World Record Numbers
Using the UQ technique, The University of Sussex and Universal Quantum team have reported being successful in transporting the qubits with a 99.999993 per cent success rate and a connection rate of 2424/s. Both these numbers are believed to be world records and orders of magnitude better than previous solutions.
Professor Sasha Roseneil, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, highlighted the value of the breakthrough, saying: “It’s fantastic to see that the inspired work of the University of Sussex and Universal Quantum physicists has resulted in this phenomenal breakthrough, taking us a significant step closer to a quantum computer that will be of real societal use. These computers are set to have boundless applications from improving the development of medicines, creating new materials, to maybe even unlocking solutions to the climate crisis.”
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The development of quantum computers has had many engineering, computer science and mathematical challenges to overcome just get it to this point. The recent discovery of how to effectively link multiple chips together in a way that is fast and accurate is the next big step forward in boosting their power and overcoming single chip constraints. This could mean that we are entering the realm of scaled-up, practical quantum computers that are capable of solving some of the biggest challenges faced by many different industries, and some of the biggest challenges facing us all, such as how to successfully treat some of our most serious diseases and tackle the climate crisis.