Jul 8, 2021 - Technology

An ultra-cold approach to quantum computing

Hilbert quantum computing
ColdQuanta's Hilbert quantum computer. Photo: Courtesy of ColdQuanta

A Boulder, Colorado-based startup says it achieved a new milestone in quantum computing with an approach that traps atoms in an ultra-cold array.

Why it matters: Companies are experimenting with strategies to develop quantum computers. Cold atom technology promises to produce qubits — the basic unit of quantum computing — that are more stable, a key goal of the emerging industry.

Driving the news: ColdQuanta announced Wednesday that it had been able to trap 100 qubits in a large and dense 2-D cold array for its quantum computer.

  • The company will be using the technology in a quantum computer — code-named "Hilbert" after David Hilbert, a pioneer in the mathematics that undergirds quantum computing — that it expects to be available for cloud customers by the end of the year or early 2022.

How it works: ColdQuanta traps cesium atoms in a 2D array using lasers, which brings down their temperature to just a few microdegrees above absolute zero, says Paul Lipman, the company's president of quantum computing.

  • "Because the qubits are extremely cold, it reduces the noise in the system, and we can enjoy much longer coherence times than you would have with a superconducting quantum computer," he adds.
  • That matters because quantum computers are judged not just on the number of qubits they can use but on their ability to maintain qubit coherence, which can be disrupted by vibrations, temperature fluctuations and other factors from the outside environment.

By the numbers: The entire 100-atom array is roughly the width of a human hair.

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