Quantum computing in silicon

A French-Australian collaboration is setting out to make silicon quantum computing a practical reality.

“I’m excited by our technology because it has the potential to change the world,” says Professor Andrew Dzurak of the University of New South Wales, the quantum computing expert who leads the Australian side of the partnership.

Andrew and his colleagues hope that their work will enable computing capabilities that are out of reach today and perhaps also result in the first universal quantum computer.

Using the quantum properties of fundamental particles like single electrons or atoms, a working quantum computer could tackle problems – in areas spanning from pharmaceutical design to machine learning to defence – that can’t be solved by any current supercomputer.

IT companies and governments around the globe are investing in research, but a useful quantum computer remains elusive.

There are many different approaches, Andrew explains, but silicon has natural properties that make it a robust way of storing and processing quantum information. Working as part of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, his team at UNSW has already developed qubits that are modified versions of the transistors comprising modern silicon processor chips.

The UNSW researchers are now working with Australia’s first quantum computing commercialisation company, Silicon Quantum Computing, and are teaming up with the French research and development organisation CEA (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives) to advance this technology.

By combining the core scientific concepts patented by Andrew’s team with SQC’s commercial focus and funding and CEA’s world-class expertise in the development of innovative integrated circuits, the collaboration aims to accelerate the development of the technology and also create commercial opportunities.

“I don’t believe that we could hope to build a quantum computer without each other’s unique capabilities,” Andrew says. “Our sum is very much greater than our parts.”

Banner Image: Researchers use beams of electrons to draw tiny circuits. Credit: ANFF/University of NSW