Scientists in Australia have developed a new type of cryogenic quantum computer chip that works close to the theoretically coldest temperature in the universe and could trigger a new technological revolution.
The system, called gooseberries, runs at a temperature 40 times colder than deep space – an increase of 20 times compared to what is possible with quantum computers today.
Extremely complex mathematical equations that will take traditional supercomputers hundreds to if not thousands of years to calculate can take a quantum computer in seconds to complete.
“This is going to be transformative in the next few years,” said Andrew White, director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems.
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Traditional computers use “bits” of information. Some of its nature is binary, on or off, black or white, yes or no. Its equivalent in quantum computation is a qubit, which exploits the strange, eerie world of quantum mechanics to live in a “Superposition” of two separate states simultaneously, thus multiplying the computing power greatly.
Most modern quantum computers use a few dozen qubits. But these new cryogenic chips will allow machines to perform calculations with thousands if not millions of qubits or more, and achieve hitherto unimaginable levels of processing power.
Qubits require extremely low temperatures to operate efficiently, and the electrical wires used to connect them have often interrupted operation due to overheating. The Gooseberry system uses a huge paired down two-wire system to connect it to a secondary core in a separate room.
The system can do this because it works on “Millikelvin” temperatures, which are a fraction above absolute zero at 0.1 kelvin, or -459.49 degrees Fahrenheit (273.05 degrees Celsius). Absolute zero in itself is -273.15 degrees Celsius.
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The breakthrough marks what the researchers at the University of Sydney and Microsoft Corporation called “Next Chapter in Quantum Technology,” and could lead to historical and revolutionary advances in fields as diverse as cryptography, medicine, economics, artificial intelligence and logistics.
The researchers make the dizzying claim that quantum computers are currently at a similar stage of development as traditional computers were in the 1940s.
While their current prototype took four years to develop, the researchers fully intend to plow on and “Realizing quantum technology on an industrial scale.”
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