Silex Systems building pilot system to supply specialized silicon needed by Michelle Simmons’ Silicon Quantum Computing
(AFR.com) Michelle Simmons, a Scientia Professor at the University of NSW and director of Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC), has been at the forefront of research in quantum computing. Simmons is determined that Australia captures as much of the massive opportunity in quantum computing as possible.
“We’ve got a competitive edge and you’ve got to get in now so that you can capitalise on that.”But now the rubber is finally starting to hit the road – or rather, the silicon is.
ASX-listed Silex Systems is about to start work building a pilot plant that will produce a highly specialised form of silicon that is a key ingredient in the specialist computer chips Simmons needs to put her quantum algorithms into action. SQC, which put $1.8 million into the development of the pilot plant, alongside $3 million from the federal government.
In the week that saw the Australian government announce $100 million for quantum technologies, Simmons says the collaboration between SQC, Silex, academia and the government is an example of how quantum computing can boost not just the local technology sector but also the manufacturing industry.
SQC, which counts the Commonwealth, Telstra and Commonwealth Bank among its shareholders, and which will next year seek to raise $130 million in fresh capital, has three clear goals: to demonstrate the capability required to reliably produce a 10-qubit prototype quantum integrated processor by 2023; to deliver a programmable device based on a 100-qubit quantum processor embodying error correction before 2030 (hopefully around 2028); and to develop a universal quantum computer for a wide range of applications by the mid-2030s.
But all these goals rely on the development of suitable chips. “It’s just like today’s computers,” Goldsworthy explains. “Without a chip, it’s just a bunch of gear that doesn’t work. If you can get the hardware chip right, then you’ve opened the door to the rest of the tech stack.”