Inside Quantum Technology

Quantum circuit news underscores Silicon Quantum Computing’s juggernaut status

Michelle Simmons: Source: UNSW Newsroom

This week’s news out of Australia about the creation of the world’s first integrated quantum computer circuit–that is, one that comprises the elements of a classical computer chip at quantum scale–put the spotlight one of the fastest-rising firms in the sector: Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC).

Even before this week’s announcement, SQC was having a busy month, announcing last week that it was embarking on a $130 million (Australian) Series A funding to fuel its next five-plus years of technical development, operations and strategic activities from 2023 to 2028. It was an interesting, perhaps bold move to announce the plan to raise funding, as opposed to waiting until the round was closed. 

Then again, SQC, founded by highly-regarded Michelle Simmons, who was named Australian of the Year in 2018, has been getting loads of attention for its work with UNSW Sydney for years, and in 2017 raised $83 million in seed capital from the university, the Australian government, the New South Wales government, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and telecom operator Telstra Corporation Limited. It was that funding that brought SQC to its headline-making moment this week.

The Series A funding eventually will enable SQC to continue developing its proprietary technology to meet its second watershed technical milestone – a 100-qubit quantum device – and to unlock market opportunities, resulting in a major value inflection point, an SQC statement said.

This week’s announcement also follows last month’s decision by SQC to transfer its silicon CMOS (SiMOS) assets to a new spin-out company formed and funded by UNSW Sydney and Allectus Capital. This move presumably gives SQC greater ability to focus on further development of its Atom Qubits in Silicon technology, which was invented by Simmons.

SQC also was home to former Google physicist John Martinis during 2020 and 2021. Martinis is knon for having led Google’s effort to demonstrate the notion of “quantum supremacy.” 

In a statement, Ed Husic, Australia’s Minister for Industry and Science, said the efforts of SQC reflect well on Australia’s burgeoning quantum technology ecosystem. “SQC’s breakthrough in quantum computing is big news and a terrific reflection on the quality of local know-how,” he said, adding, “It’s providing a clear pathway for new and emerging technologies to support our world class industries. Australia’s research capabilities lay the foundations to build a strong quantum industry both domestically and with our like-minded international partners. Quantum technology breakthroughs in communications, sensing and computing boost this strategically important sector, which is estimated to deliver $4 billion in economic growth and 16,000 new jobs by 2040.”

Australian officials earlier this year called for a more coordinated approach to the development of the country’s quantum technology efforts as it became clear that a quantum “space race” was developing among multiple countries.

Dan O’Shea has covered telecommunications and related topics including semiconductors, sensors, retail systems, digital payments and quantum computing/technology for over 25 years.

Photo of Michelle Simmons. Source: USNW Newsroom

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