Yale researchers work for quantum computer


Vera Villanueva

A group of Yale researchers competing to build the world's first quantum computer was recently profiled by The New York Times.

If the project is successful, quantum computers could perform calculations at a much faster rate than current supercomputers. The applications of new computers could range from the advancement of machine learning and data badysis to the development of new medicines for diseases. After six Yale researchers determined they had researched enough quantum principles to build a practical computer, three of the researchers founded a company in 2015 dedicated to the construction and sale of quantum computers. Their efforts were covered nationwide after the company received more than $ 18 million in venture funds from three different firms.

"Since the late 1990s, there has always been a hope that the processing of information in a quantum fashion would give new powers to computing, but there is a large set of capabilities that it needs to do it. I had more success with them, "said Robert Schoelkopf, one of the initial researchers and co-founder of Quantum Circuits, Inc.

QCI is not the only company that hopes to build a quantum computer; According to the New York Times article, Google, IBM and Intel are leaders in the quantum computing arms race.

Current computers store information in bits, with each piece of information processed as an electronic signal and recorded as one or zero. While quantum computing systems are difficult to visualize due to the interactions of subatomic particles, such as electrons and photons, quantum bits can simultaneously store one and zero. This allows these qubits to have more information at once, making quantum computers, in theory, exponentially more powerful.

In the past, qubits had a short life, disappearing almost instantaneously and making systems that used them prone to errors of calculation. According to Kevin Chou GRD & # 39; 17, a researcher in the Schoelkopf laboratory, the laboratory has been developing techniques to perform reliable calculations despite these errors, building qubits with longer lifetimes and performing quantum correction to detect and correct errors when they happen In particular, Schoelkopf and his colleagues were pioneers in solving frequent errors by using superconducting circuits, circuits with qubits that have been built with materials that exhibit quantum properties at extremely low temperatures, minimizing electrical resistance.

"With the implementation of [superconducting circuits] we adopted a modular approach: creating small circuits that can then be joined together, rather than trying to build a large one," said Lev Krayzman GRD & # 39; 21, a laboratory researcher. "As far as I know, this is not done by any other superconducting quantum computing group."

Although the modular approach is unique to the Yale quantum computing group, the use of superconducting circuits has become the main subject of quantum research in the industry. According to Schoelkopf, many of his former students are working on quantum computing projects using superconductors in technology companies such as IBM and Rigetti Computing.

Schoelkopf, who co-founded QCI in 2015 with Yale professor Michel Devoret and lead researcher Luigi Frunzio, said that he and his colleagues decided to establish a separate entity that could focus on marketing, which is outside the scope of the study a university research group.

While the University's laboratory studies the scientific principles behind quantum computing, QCI focuses on computer engineering and commercialization.

Schoelkopf stressed the importance of collaboration between academia and the marketing sector to translate research into product development.

"Because this is a new field, to build quantum computers, we need experts in research laboratories to participate and advise the engineering part," Schoelkopf said. "That's the key." This is not yet an established industry. "

Although QCI has not yet created a functional quantum computer, the team recently received new funding totaling $ 18 million from Canaan and Sequoia Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners, Osage University Partners and Fitzgate Ventures – Schoelkopf said the funds are an indication of how close the team is to updating its product.

Although Google, IBM and Intel are working to build the first quantum computer, researchers at the Schoelkopf Laboratory see the interaction less as a competition that as a comparison of ideas.

Schoelkopf said that the big technology companies may not even have an advantage over small quantum computing companies like QCI.

"It is not clear how much of the experience of the Conventional computing really translates into quantum computing, "he said.

Schoelkopf emphasized that it is Close collaboration among Yale researchers led to the success of his laboratory in the field of quantum computing. While it is necessary to have a critical mbad of scientists working together, their relatively small lab group is able to rival companies like Google and IBM because the professors joined and supported each other, he said.

Laboratory researchers told the news that they also perceived a collaborative environment that helped convince them to join the lab.

"I joined the lab because I was impressed by the collaborative atmosphere in the lab and how everyone was genuinely excited about solving new areas of quantum physics." Yvonne Gao GRD & # 39; 18 said.

Schoelkopf and his colleagues observed that Yale has been a great support for their research, updating their laboratories affiliated with the University with the latest technologies, hiring world-clbad professors and helping to patent their new discoveries. 19659003] Schoelkopf will take a license to become CEO of QCI in January.

Serena Cho | [email protected]

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