Manufacturing Bits: July 27

Merchant quantum processors; magnetic monopoles; quantum funding.


Merchant quantum processors
Startup QuantWare has launched the world’s first merchant and off-the-shelf superconducting processor for quantum computers.

QuantWare’s quantum processor unit (QPU), called Soprano, is a 5-qubit device. The QPU can be customized for various applications. The device is ideal for research institutions and university labs.

Quantum computing is a hot topic. A growing number of entities are racing each other to benchmark, stabilize, and ultimately commercialize this technology.

In today’s computing, the information is stored in bits, which can be either a “0” or “1”. In quantum computing, the information is stored in quantum bits, or qubits, which can exist as a “0” or “1” or a combination of both. The superposition state enables a quantum computer to perform multiple calculations at once, enabling it to outperform a traditional system. But the technology faces a number of challenges, and many industry experts believe these systems are still a decade away from being practical.

Today, Google, IBM and others have built the first wave of quantum computers. Many system houses tend to build their own processors. Each processor consists of qubits.

Some would like to develop quantum computers. But it’s often cost prohibitive for them to produce the devices. This is especially true for the research community and universities.

These entities require merchant quantum processors. Some sell off-the-shelf QPUs. QuantWare is developing the first merchant superconducting QPUs. The fidelities of each single-qubit gate from QuantWare is 99.9%. It has several customizable features, including filters and a TSV technology.

“The race towards useful quantum computation is heating up, but still reserved to a small group of companies. By making QPUs more available, we will speed up the development of practical quantum-driven solutions to the world’s biggest problems,” said Alessandro Bruno, QuantWare’s co-founder.

Magnetic monopoles
Using D-Wave’s quantum-annealing computer, Los Alamos National Laboratory has shown that it’s possible to isolate magnetic monopoles. This research could one day enable future nanomagnets.

D-Wave develops a quantum annealer, a technology that solves optimization problems. For example, if you have a problem with many combinations, a quantum annealing system searches for the best of many possible combinations.

Magnets have two poles–north and south. If you put the south pole of one magnet next to the north pole of another one, the two magnets attract each other.

In physics, a magnetic monopole is a hypothetical elementary particle. It is an isolated magnet with only one magnetic pole. It has a north pole without a south pole. Or it has a south pole without a north.

It’s impossible to make magnetic monopoles from a magnet. “If a bar magnet is cut in half, it is not the case that one half has the north pole and the other half has the south pole. Instead, each piece has its own north and south poles,” according to Wikipedia.

A magnetic monopole cannot be created from existing matter. In theory, magnetic monopoles exist, but they have never been found.

To find magnetic monopoles, researchers developed novel magnetic nanostructures in superconducting qubits. More specifically, researchers devised a spin ice in a lattice of superconducting qubits. “Artificial spin ice is a class of lithographically created arrays of interacting ferromagnetic nanometer-scale islands,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Researchers from Los Alamos realized artificial spin ice by using the superconducting qubits of D-Wave’s machine as a magnetic building block. Researchers from Los Alamos, in turn, used Gauss’s law to trap monopoles in the structures.

“Utilizing a D-Wave quantum annealing system, we have enough control to actually trap one or more of these particles and study them individually. We saw them walking around, getting pinned down, and being created and annihilated in pairs of opposite magnetic charge. And we could thus confirm our quantitative theoretical predictions, that they interact and in fact screen each other,” said Cristiano Nisoli, a researcher at Los Alamos.

“D-Wave’s processors are designed to excel in optimization, but can also be used as quantum simulators. By programming the desired interactions of our magnetic material into D-Wave’s qubits, we can perform experiments that are otherwise extremely difficult,” said Andrew King, director of performance research at D-Wave. “This collaborative, proof-of-principle work demonstrates new experimental capabilities, improving the power and versatility of artificial spin ice studies. The ability to programmatically manipulate emergent quasiparticles may become a key aspect to materials engineering and even topological quantum computing; we hope it will be foundational for future research.”

“These results also have technological consequences particularly relevant to DOE and Los Alamos, specifically in the idea of materials-by-design, to produce future nanomagnets that might show advanced and desirable functionality for sensing and computation. Monopoles, as binary information carriers, can be relevant to spintronics. They also contribute significantly to Los Alamos D-Wave investments,” noted Alejandro Lopez-Bezanilla of Los Alamos.

Quantum funding
The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $73 million in funding to advance quantum information science research.

The 29 projects announced will study the materials and chemical processes needed to develop the next generation of quantum smart devices and quantum computing technology—critical tools to solving the most pressing and complex challenges, from climate change to national security.

“At DOE, we’re investing in the fundamental research, led by universities and our National Labs, that will enhance our resiliency in the face of growing cyber threats and climate disasters, paving the path to a cleaner, more secure future,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.

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