Quantum News Briefs: January 18, 2023: Purdue University Connected Company Quantum Research Sciences receives U.S. Air Force’s first Quantum Computing Phase III contract; Mitsui will invest in Quantinuum and sign a distributorship agreement for marketing in Japan and Asia-Pacific; D-Wave Names Kirstjen Nielsen, Former Secretary of Homeland Security, to Board of Directors; US users rush in as China opens its top quantum computer Origin Wukong to the world, state media reports; and MORE!
Quantum News Briefs: January 18, 2023:
Purdue University Connected Company Quantum Research Sciences receives U.S. Air Force’s first Quantum Computing Phase III contract
Quantum Research Sciences (QRS), a Purdue-connected software company, has secured a $2.5 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to deliver the Department of Defense’s (DOD) first quantum computing software for operational use. This three-year Phase III Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract will solve supply chain issues by accurately forecasting inventory levels, a challenge especially prevalent in the military and private sectors. QRS’s quantum computing software has shown a 28% improvement in accuracy over traditional methods, addressing the common problem of unforecastable inventory, which leads to either excess or inadequate stock. This software not only determines optimal inventory quantities but also predicts when and how items are needed, providing a comprehensive solution to inventory management. The development of this software has been a collaborative effort with the U.S. Air Force and Purdue, evolving from a prototype in earlier phases to a fully operational product in Phase III.
Mitsui will invest in Quantinuum and sign a distributorship agreement for marketing in Japan and Asia-Pacific
Quantinuum’s recent $300 million equity fundraising effort was joined by prominent investors such as JPMorgan Chase, Honeywell, and Amgen. Additionally, Mitsui and Quantinuum have formed a distributorship agreement to introduce Quantinuum’s quantum solutions, especially in cybersecurity, to the Japanese and Asia-Pacific markets. With quantum computing expected to become a $450 billion to $850 billion market by 2035, the strategic partnership between Mitsui and Quantinuum is set to integrate Mitsui’s global industrial expertise with Quantinuum’s advanced quantum technology, fostering new business models and customer solutions. Quantinuum has already achieved significant milestones, including the launch of Quantum Origin, the world’s first quantum-computing cryptography application, and the development of high-performing quantum computers with record-breaking quantum volume achievements.
US users rush in as China opens its top quantum computer Origin Wukong to the world, state media reports
In the ten days since China’s state-of-the-art quantum computer, Origin Wukong, was made accessible globally, users from 61 countries have engaged with the system, with the United States being the primary user, according to a report by Science and Technology Daily. The company’s co-founder behind Origin Wukong highlighted the principle of ‘scientific exploration without borders,’ noting the irony that U.S. quantum computers are not open to Chinese access. This international interest in China’s quantum computing capabilities underscores the growing global focus on advancing quantum technology.
D-Wave Names Kirstjen Nielsen, Former Secretary of Homeland Security, to Board of Directors
D-Wave Quantum Inc., a pioneering company in quantum computing systems, software, and services, announced the appointment of Kirstjen Nielsen, former U.S. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, to its board of directors. Nielsen’s extensive experience in security, cybersecurity, and emerging technology policy, including artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum technology, positions her as a valuable addition to D-Wave’s board. She brings a unique perspective from her diverse policy, strategy, and operations background, particularly in leveraging emerging technologies in government settings. Nielsen’s appointment is critical as D-Wave continues to drive the adoption of quantum technology in enterprise and government sectors. Her prior roles include serving on the White House Homeland Security Council, contributing to creating the TSA, and leading initiatives at the World Economic Forum. Nielsen’s expertise is expected to be instrumental in guiding D-Wave through the commercialization of quantum technology and exploring its impact on AI and machine learning.
NTT Corporation (NTT) and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science
and Technology (AIST) collaborate on advancing Quantum Current Standards through Silicon Quantum Dot Technology
NTT Corporation and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have made a significant breakthrough in quantum current standards by creating a stable and reliable electric current using silicon quantum dots. This development is crucial for precise measurement technologies, particularly in microfabrication, physics, and chemistry. The research, supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, focused on overcoming the challenges of measuring extremely small currents with high accuracy. NTT and AIST could match currents with an unprecedentedly low uncertainty of about 4×10^-7 using two independent silicon quantum dots. This technique doubles the current while maintaining accuracy and sets a new standard for measuring minute currents below the nano-ampere level. This advancement is expected to significantly improve current measurement accuracy in various fields, including semiconductor microfabrication, chemical measurement, and radiation measurement. The research, demonstrating a major step forward in quantum measurement and technology, was published in the journal Nano Letters.
IonQ Co-Founder Dr. Jungsang Kim Elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors
IonQ, a leading company in the quantum computing industry, announced that its co-founder, Dr. Jungsang Kim, has been named a 2023 fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), a prestigious recognition as the highest professional distinction for inventors. Dr. Kim’s innovative research and inventions, which include 35 patents with 19 licensed to IonQ, are foundational to IonQ’s success. His contributions feature breakthroughs like a modular fault-tolerant quantum computer architecture, methods to optimize quantum circuits, and a software-defined quantum computer, with 13 additional patent applications pending. Humbled by this honor, Dr. Kim acknowledges the rapid and impactful advancements in quantum computing, especially in sectors like healthcare, finance, and transportation. The NAI fellowship, celebrating inventors for their significant contributions to science and technology, includes 162 inventors holding over 4,600 U.S. patents in its 2023 class. Dr. Kim’s induction highlights his and IonQ’s considerable achievements, including advancements on a barium platform, recognition on Fast Company’s and Deloitte’s lists, and a recent expansion of partnership with Amazon Bracket to bring IonQ Forte to the Amazon Bracket Direct Program.
Vienna University of Technology Researchers Play ‘Quantum ping-pong,’ where two atoms can be made to bounce a single photon back and forth with high precision
Researchers from TU Wien in Vienna, Austria, have theoretically demonstrated a significant method in quantum physics, where another atom can reliably reabsorb a single photon emitted by one atom and then return to the first atom, akin to a game of quantum ping-pong. This is achieved using a special lens known as the Maxwell fish-eye lens, which bends the light paths between the atoms. In contrast to the randomness of photon emission in free space, this enclosed environment, like a whispering gallery for sound waves, allows for precise photon exchange between two atoms. The lens’s unique design ensures that all light rays from one atom are directed to the other, significantly improving the efficiency compared to free space. The research, published in Physical Review Letters, suggests potential for high-efficiency quantum control systems and a new level of precision in light-matter interaction studies. This theoretical concept has yet to be tested practically, but it is feasible with current technology and could be enhanced by using groups of atoms instead of individual ones.
NTT Corporation (NTT) and Nihon University collaborate to achieve Hybrid State of Electrons and Gigahertz Ultrasonic for Energy-Efficient Conversion
NTT Corporation and Nihon University have achieved a significant breakthrough in quantum technology by generating a hybrid state of photoexcited electrons and gigahertz ultrasonics with a long lifespan. This was accomplished by fabricating ultrasonic elements doped with the rare earth element Erbium (Er), which resonates with light at communication wavelengths. This advancement allows for efficient energy conversion between light and acoustic waves and precise manipulation of excited electrons, opening possibilities for energy-efficient quantum optical memory devices. The innovation overcomes the challenge of externally controlling core electrons shielded by valence electrons in Er. By applying mechanical vibration-induced strain, NTT found a way to modulate Er’s optical resonance frequency at low voltages and high speeds (up to 2 GHz), surpassing the limitations of existing methods. This method enables controlling the number and behavior of excited electrons using ultrasonic waves, a significant leap in the development of quantum optical memory devices. The research utilized specialized lasers and high-quality thin films to study and control Er electrons, marking a notable advancement in the control of rare earth electrons for quantum applications.
In Other News: Physics World article: “Baidu and Alibaba plan to quit quantum computing research”
A recent Physics World article highlights that Baidu, a leading Chinese search engine company, is exiting the quantum computing sector by donating its entire research division to the Beijing Academy of Quantum Information Sciences (BAQIS). This move, which is still under negotiation, follows the establishment of Baidu’s quantum computing facilities in 2018, with ambitions to become a global leader in quantum AI, algorithms, and architecture. Baidu achieved significant milestones, including developing a 10-qubit quantum computer in 2022, a 36-qubit quantum chip, quantum software-hardware interfaces, and a cloud-based quantum machine-learning platform. In March 2023, Baidu and BAQIS initiated China’s first quantum computing intellectual property alliance. This decision mirrors a similar step taken by Alibaba last November, when it donated its quantum research facilities to Zhejiang University, shifting its focus to fundamental AI research and applications in sectors like agriculture and healthcare. Baidu’s withdrawal from quantum computing signifies a significant realignment in China’s approach to this cutting-edge technology.
Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is the Managing Editor at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, quantum computing, and AI. Her work has been featured in Scientific American, Discover Magazine, New Scientist, Ars Technica, and more.