A team of researchers from the University of Sydney has overcome one of the most plaguing concerns in building and scaling up Quantum computing systems.
Quantum Computing: How it works?
Unlike the regular computers, whose building blocks consist of zeroes and ones, quantum computers' building blocks comprise superpositions of zeroes and ones. These primary units in quantum computing are known as qubits (Quantum Bits).
Quantum computing works by preserving and manipulating information contained in the most delicate of resources – the highly entangled quantum states. One of the things that make this process so challenging is that to preserve Quantum information. Qubits are encased in an extremely- cold environment that is 20 times colder than interstellar space.
To manipulate the qubits, we need to send signals to them externally from within the lab's confines; without enabling this communication with the qubits, we cannot perform any calculations. Hence, there is a wire for controlling every qubit in the current Quantum computing system.
The Scaling Challenge
These qubits are very unstable. The quantum states can be easily disturbed even by the slightest change in the environment. Therefore scientists go to very extraordinary lengths to cool the conditions down to absolute zero to protect the qubits and isolate them from any disruptions.
It is here that the challenge lies since the qubits have to be stored in absolute zero temperatures for performance stability. To control each qubit, you need a wired connection. These electrical wires generate a small but sufficient amount of heat to destabilize the fragile cold environment and affect the qubits' quantum state. It also means that you would need at least thousands of qubits to perform real-world calculations, if not millions. Imagine if there were so many wires to control thousands and thousands of qubits generating a sizeable amount of heat which would essentially render the function of cooling systems useless.
As Riley puts it, "Current machines create a beautiful array of wires to control the signals; they look like an inverted gilded birds' nest or chandelier. They're pretty but fundamentally impractical." It means we can't scale the machines up to perform useful calculations. There is a real input-output bottleneck."
It is here that most of the current Quantum computers are stuck in layman's terms. They cannot expand or scale themselves beyond the lab applications' scope for testing, which works on a limited number of qubits.
Gooseberry to the rescue
Even though Quantum computing offers solutions to previously unsolvable problems, scientists must solve both issues at a scale and scope far beyond current quantum computing technology. It is where eminent Quantum physicist David Reilly and his team of Microsoft and University of Sydney researchers have come up with a breakthrough.
Instead of deploying multiple stacks of electronics based on room temperature used to generate voltage pulses that controlled the qubits in the special-purpose refrigerator running at a temperature of absolute zero- they invented a controller chip called Gooseberry.
This chip sits next to the quantum device that can operate at 'millikelvin' temperatures just a tiny fraction of a degree above absolute zero, as described in a new study.1 This breakthrough sidesteps the otherwise impossible challenge of running thousands of wires into a refrigerator. It could help to scale up Quantum computing, where we can use not just thousands but millions of qubits to create solutions to the world's most pressing problems.
Quantum computing could impact medicine, artificial intelligence, chemistry, break codes and revolutionize cryptography and many more fields in game-changing ways.
Imagine if we can combine millions of qubits into complex devices and manipulate them. Then we can open the door to real-world solutions that would have taken lifetimes for even the most powerful supercomputers of our time. Hence Gooseberry is a significant step in that direction.