• Wed. Nov 22nd, 2023

    Critical Thought

    Critical thoughts on quantum technologies

    Quantum computing reaches new heights with breakthrough in fluxonium technology

    BySam Figg

    Nov 18, 2023
    Quantum computing reaches new heights with breakthrough in fluxonium technology

    Quantum computing has taken a major leap forward with a groundbreaking achievement by researchers at MIT. This advancement brings us closer to harnessing the full potential of these extraordinary thinking machines. Quantum computers have long been hailed for their ability to solve complex problems that are far beyond the capabilities of traditional supercomputers. However, one of the biggest challenges in quantum computing has been addressing and minimizing computational errors.

    In simple terms, quantum computers revolutionize the way problems are solved. Unlike traditional computers, which use binary bits (0s and 1s) to store and process information, quantum technology utilizes “qubits.” These qubits can exist in a state of 0, 1, or both simultaneously, allowing for intricate calculations. However, qubits are also highly susceptible to errors.

    To combat these errors, the MIT team has developed a new type of qubit called “fluxonium.” This superconducting qubit has a longer lifespan compared to traditional qubits. By implementing a unique architecture of these fluxonium qubits, the researchers have achieved remarkable accuracy in performing operations, or gates, in quantum computations. Their design has resulted in two-qubit gates with over 99.9 percent accuracy and single-qubit gates with 99.99 percent accuracy.

    Lead author of the study, Dr. Leon Ding, explains that the key to building a large-scale quantum computer lies in robust qubits and gates. The team’s highly promising two-qubit system showcases the advantages of the fluxonium qubits for scaling up the technology. Their next step is to increase the number of qubits.

    In classical computing, a gate represents an operation performed on bits. In quantum computing, a gate is a logical operation executed on one or two qubits. Achieving higher accuracy in these operations is crucial, as errors in quantum systems can quickly escalate and lead to failures.

    For many years, quantum research primarily focused on a qubit type called “transmon.” However, the longer working lifespan of fluxonium qubits sets them apart. This extended lifespan allows the MIT team to develop high-accuracy gates that can run algorithms for extended periods without losing data.

    The researchers have also introduced a system that minimizes unwanted background noise, which can introduce errors. This system shows promising results in reducing background interactions.

    Analogy-wise, senior researcher William Oliver compares working with low-quality qubits to attempting a task in a room full of kindergartners. Adding more kindergartners only adds chaos. However, when mature graduate students work together, their combined performance surpasses that of any individual. This concept is crucial for building an extensible quantum computer, and it starts with high-quality quantum operations.

    Following these groundbreaking results, a new startup called Atlantic Quantum has been founded by a group from MIT. The company aims to utilize fluxonium qubits to construct practical, commercial quantum computers. Dr. Bharath Kannan, CEO of Atlantic Quantum, believes these results have the potential to transform the entire field of quantum computing. He sees the new architecture using fluxonium qubits as a viable and promising path towards building a useful and fault-tolerant quantum computer.

    Experts in the field, including Chunqing Deng from Alibaba’s global research institution, view the MIT team’s work as a major milestone. Deng praises the new architecture for coupling fluxonium qubits and highlights the achieved gate fidelities as the best on record for fluxonium. This architecture also offers flexibility in parameter selection, a crucial feature for scaling up to a multi-qubit fluxonium processor.

    This groundbreaking study has been published in the journal Physical Review X, solidifying the crucial role of fluxonium technology in the future of quantum computing.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    What are quantum computers?

    Quantum computers are advanced machines capable of solving complex problems that are beyond the capabilities of traditional supercomputers. They utilize the principles of quantum physics to process and store information.

    What are qubits?

    Qubits are the fundamental units of quantum information. Unlike traditional bits, which can only represent either 0 or 1, qubits can exist in a superposition of both states simultaneously, allowing for more complex calculations and parallel processing.

    What are fluxonium qubits?

    Fluxonium qubits are a type of superconducting qubit that have an extended lifespan compared to traditional qubits. They offer higher accuracy in performing operations, or gates, in quantum computations.

    How do fluxonium qubits reduce computational errors?

    Fluxonium qubits are designed with a unique architecture that minimizes unwanted background noise and interactions. This reduction in errors contributes to the overall accuracy and reliability of quantum computations.

    What is the significance of this breakthrough in quantum computing?

    The breakthrough achieved by the MIT researchers represents a significant milestone in the field of quantum computing. It demonstrates the potential of fluxonium qubits to enhance the accuracy and scalability of quantum operations, bringing us closer to the realization of practical and fault-tolerant quantum computers.