Maybell Quantum’s Icebox is a small fridge for large quantum computers
(TechCrunch) Frederic Lardinois recently described the technology of Maybell Quantum, a Denver-based startup that that came out of stealth this week with the launch of its cryogenic platform the ‘Icebox’. Inside Quantum Technology summarizes here.
As the name implies, Icebox is a cryogenic platform to cool quantum processors down to the very low temperatures it takes to run a stable quantum system. Traditionally, these are extremely large systems but Maybell says its Icebox is able to support three times as many qubits in one-tenth the space of currently used setups.
In part, it’s able to do this because its fridge features 4,500 superconducting “Flexlines,” as the company calls its quantum wires which transmit far less heat and vibration (the archenemies of stable quantum systems) compared to traditional cabling. While the Icebox is all about refrigeration, the wiring is a critical piece of this solution. “Folks work hard to vibrationally isolate their qubits and they’ll put them on floating foundations,” Maybell’s CEO explained. “They’ll put them in separate rooms and they have all these copper braids and stuff. But then the semi-rigid coax cables that you use to communicate with your qubits – they’re like sticks. You hold them at one end and they stick out straight. That transmits the majority of the vibration that the qubits see in a big system.”
Because of this innovation in the cabling, the Icebox is smaller but can also fit 4,500 of these superconducting wires that it takes to control a quantum processor.
Maybell founder and CEO Corban Tillemann-Dick, who previously led Boston Consulting Group’s quantum practice, also noted that the team was able to design the unit from the ground up and in the process, it was able to bring a human-centric design philosophy to a business that traditionally never focused on making its machinery easy to use.
“I realized this was a company that should exist when doing strategy work for quantum players at [Boston Consulting Group] and I said, ‘listen, I’m not going to make the difference at one of the cubit players. Plus, they felt like a lottery ticket to me. But when it comes down to improving the supply chain and applying human-centered design to problems, that I have a ton of experience with,’” Tillemann-Dick said when Lardinois asked him about how he got to focus on this specific niche in the quantum ecosystem.
Maybell says it has already received contracts from “DARPA, NSIC/DIU, and leading research universities,” all of which surely appreciate that the Icebox is basically a standard two-rack system instead of a room-scale machine.