(Telegraph.uk) After 40 years of trying to make practical reality live up to quantum theory, Britain is getting its first of this different kind of machine. And the man tasked with delivering it is Chad Rigetti. UK’s Telegraph has provided an extensive discussion here of the UK’s decision to develop a quantum computer and the problems associated with that effort. The discussion includes both the peril and the promise of the quantum computing effort and builds around Chad Rigetti’s leadership role.
Rigetti is the founder of Rigetti computers, which has just been announced as the leader of the £10m, three-year project, co-funded by government and industry, to build the quantum computer in Abingdon, Oxford. He says, “The countries that really have leading edge efforts in making quantum computing practical give themselves the seeds of an innovation hub akin to Silicon Valley,” he says. “It’s critical to nations that view technology-driven economic development as a core part of their national strategy.”
When announcing the Rigetti deal, Science minister Amanda Solloway declared the government’s ambition “to be the world’s first quantum-ready economy, which could provide UK businesses and industries with billions of pounds worth of opportunities.
The trouble is that controlling qubits is dauntingly hard. It is not just about the flow of electrons, as in silicon transistors, but their spin. And quantum states are fragile, prone to be knocked-off true by environmental “noise”, and delivering error-laden results. Stabilising qubits, and correcting for errors, are two major challenges.
The UK consortium which Rigetti leads shows how far there is to go. Its partner Oxford Instruments will supply state of the art refrigeration needed; a start-up called Phasecraft will develop the entirely new kind of algorithms required to put qubits to work; and the University of Edinburgh will be developing ways to test and verify both this new hardware and software.
Chad Rigetti concedes that, frankly, only seeing will be believing. “Quantum computing thoroughly tests the laws of quantum physics every time you send an instruction to it. To build computers, you have to completely master that underlying physical theory. And that’s what’s happening. As we do that, that will lead to a demystification. In the next generation or two, quantum computing will feel much more natural and straightforward.”