In a Historic Milestone, Silicon Quantum Computing Just Exceeded 99% Accuracy

In a Historic Milestone, Silicon Quantum Computing Just Exceeded 99% Accuracy


Visualization of an entangled three-qubit system. (Tony Melov/UNSA)

A great milestone has just been reached in quantum computing. 

Three separate great teams around the world have passed the 99 percent accuracy threshold for silicon-based quantum computing, placing most precise quantum operations within tantalizing grasp. 

In Australia, a team led by senior physicist Andrea Morello of the University of New South Wales reached 99.95 percent accuracy with one-qubit operations, and 99.37 percent for two-qubit operations in a three-qubit system. 

In the Netherlands, a team led by senior physicist Seigo Tarucha of Delft University of Technology reached 99.87 percent accuracy for one-qubit operations, and 99.65 percent for two-qubit operations in quantum dots. 

 Finally, in Japan, a team led by senior physicist Akito Noiri of RIKEN reached 99.84 percent accuracy for one-qubit operations and 99.51 percent for two-qubit operations, also in quantum dots. 

All three teams have published their outcomes in the journal Nature today. 

Quantum computing depend upon quantum mechanics as the basis for operations. Data is encoded in qubits, or quantum bits, the quantum computing equivalent of binary bits, the basic units of information.

However, where bits process data in one of two states – a 1 or a 0 – a qubit can be in the state of a 1, a 0, or both simultaneously. 

In 2014, Morello and his teammates were able to demonstrate a whopping 35-second lifespan for quantum information in a silicon substrate. Their qubits were based on the spin states of nuclei, which, separated from their environment, enabled the setting of a new time benchmark. But that very isolation proved issue, too: it made it harder for the qubits to communicate with each other, which is important for performing quantum computation. 

To resolve this problem, Morello and colleagues introduced an electron to their system of two phosphorus nuclei via ion implantation into the silicon, one of the fundamental methods for making microchips. This is how they created their three-qubit system, and it really worked. 

Any one of these research papers alone would be important achievement. The fact that all three teams have reached the same major achievement independently suggests that quantum computing will now be surging ahead. 

The three research papers have been published in Nature. You can study them here, here and here. 

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