Faster than fast: Researchers hit new goal in quantum computing race

 January 1, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Scientists at America's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency have announced the creation of the "first-ever quantum circuit with logical quantum bits," and say the accomplishment "could accelerate fault-tolerant quantum computing."

It also could revolutionize concepts for designing quantum computer processors.

NASA explains that quantum computers run millions of times faster than even so-called supercomputers now routinely in use.

"The properties that govern physics at the extremely small scales and low temperatures of the quantum realm are puzzling and unique. Quantum computing is the practice of harnessing those properties to enable revolutionary algorithms that traditional computers wouldn’t be able to run," it explains. "Algorithms are a set of instructions to solve a problem or accomplish a task in computing. Quantum algorithms require descriptions of what operations should do during computation on a quantum computer, which often takes the form of a software program called a 'quantum circuit.'"

DARPA said its goal was reached by a team of researchers at its "Optimization with Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum Devices (ONISQ) program."

The program was intended to identify how to show there was a quantitative advantage of quantum information processing by "leapfrogging the performance of classical-only supercomputers to solve a particularly challenging class of problem known as combinatorial optimization."

The concept is that such processors could be used for the nation's defense industry, as well as in commercial applications.

Early results were "noisy," or error-prone.

The report said a Harvard team that included representatives of other participating groups focused on the potential of Rydberg qubits and found how to assemble "logical qubits" that are error-corrected to maintain their quantum state, making them more useful.

Those logical qubits also can be scaled, meaning their applications are far more vast.

"Rydberg qubits have the beneficial characteristic of being homogenous in their properties – meaning each qubit is indistinguishable from the next in how they behave," said Mukund Vengalattore, ONISQ program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office. "That’s not the case for other platforms such as superconducting qubits where each qubit is unique and therefore not interchangeable. The homogeneity of Rydberg qubits allows them to scale rapidly and also allows them to be manipulated and moved around easily using lasers on a quantum circuit.

"This overcomes the current error-prone methods of performing qubit operations by having to connect them sequentially, which propagates errors throughout the chip. It’s now possible to imagine the dynamic reconfiguration of qubits on a quantum chip, where you’re no longer limited to a sequential process of running quantum circuits. Now, you can bring entire collections of qubits, all of them, from one place in the circuit to another place on the circuit using laser tweezers, run an operation, and then put them back where they were originally. Dynamically reconfigurable and transportable Rydberg logical qubits open up completely new concepts and paradigms for designing and building scalable quantum computing processors."

DARPA said, "While it’s anticipated that at least an order of magnitude greater than 48 logical qubits will be needed to solve any big problems envisioned for quantum computers, the Rydberg logical qubit breakthrough casts new light on the traditional view that millions of physical qubits are needed before a fault-tolerant quantum computer can be developed."

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