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Quantum Computing Hits the Desktop, No Cryo-Cooling Required


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IBM's 2017-model, 16-qubit quantum processor encased in a cryogenic chamber.

While room-temperature quantum qubits have been around experimentally for more than 20 years, Quantum Brilliance's contribution to the field is in working out how to manufacture these tiny things precisely and replicably, as well as in miniaturizing and integrating the control structures you need to get information in and out of the qubits.

Credit: IBM Research

An Australian/German company is developing powerful quantum accelerators the size of graphics cards. They work at room temperature, undercutting and outperforming today's huge, cryo-cooled quantum supercomputers, and soon they'll be small enough for mobile devices.

Superconducting quantum computers are huge and incredibly finicky machines at this point. They need to be isolated from anything that might knock an electron's spin off and ruin a calculation. That includes mechanical isolation, in extreme vacuum chambers, where only a few molecules might remain in a cubic meter or two of space. It includes electromagnetic forces – IBM, for example, surrounds its precious quantum bits, or qubits, with mu metals to absorb all magnetic fields.

And it includes temperature. Any atom with a temperature above absolute zero is by definition in a state of vibration, and any temperature more than 10-15 thousandths of a degree above absolute zero simply shakes the qubits to the poin where they can't maintain "coherence." So most state-of-the-art quantum computers need to be cryogenically cooled using complex and expensive equipment before the qubits will maintain their state for any length of time and become useful.

From New Atlas
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