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The Golden Age of Quantum Computing Is Upon US (once We Solve the Tiny Problems)

IBM's four-qubit square lattice of superconducting qubits, which is roughly one-quarter-inch square.

IBM researchers have devices a method for detecting errors in qubits used for computation in a quantum computer.

Credit: IBM Research

IBM researchers recently announced a breakthrough in the quest to develop a functional quantum computer.

Unlike the bits in a classical computer, the qubits used for computations in a quantum computer can be very unstable and error-prone. The IBM researchers were able to design a method of detecting errors in a two-by-two lattice of superconducting qubits using a technique called surface code, using two of the qubits to check the other two qubits for errors.

However, error correction is only one of the many remaining obstacles to building a practical quantum computer.

Coherence time, the amount of time that qubits retain their quantum properties before reverting to a classical state, is one of the challenges. The current record for coherence time is just 35 seconds.

One of the largest obstacles is a total lack of standardization in terms of the materials and architectures used to make quantum computers. Some labs, including the IBM lab, use superconducting circuits, while others use ion traps or embed electrons in silicon. Scaling up quantum computers also is a problem, because the more qubits are added to an array, the more likely it is that it will lose its quantum properties.

However, Jerry Chow, manager of IBM's Experimental Quantum Computing group, says he is optimistic these obstacles will be overcome.

From Fast Company
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