Chasing the quantum computer rainbow

UC Santa Barbara Martinis Group’s superconducting five-qubit array. Credit: Erik Lucero

Google has announced a partnership with the University of Santa Barbara, California, to work on a quantum information processor based on superconducting electronics.

The UC Santa Barbara group have a good record in building superconducting quantum electronic components with very high fidelity.  Quantum processing is about injecting information in quantum states (waves) and being able to retrieve the result out of the collapsing of the waves from probability states into a single state (the result). This is not easy and is more related to a statistical outcome than to a sure thing. Of course, what you need is a precise result and the fidelity is the indication of the accuracy of the result (remember that quantum world is a strange beast, where 2 plus 2 is quite close to 4....). The group published their results in April on the journal Nature with a fidelity reaching 99.92% in the case of a single qbit processor and 99.4% in a 2 qbit processors (the more quits you have the more difficult it is to get accurate results since errors is compounded). 

The goal is to move further on the direction of creating a real quantum computer, a goal that is proving a little bit like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. As you seem to get closer you realise that the finish line has moved a bit further.

The present D-Wave quantum computer based on a quantum annealing architecture is considered by many not a real quantum computer although it has some of the characteristics expected by a quantum computer and the Vesusium Machine developed at NASA with its 1,000 qbit still fall short of being the "real thing". 

Nice to see, however, that research keeps moving on.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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