(NextPlatform) IonQ is a notable exception to the solid-state quantum processor approach to quantum computing is being pursued by a started named IonQ, which is using trapped ions for its qubits using ytterbium atoms suspended in a vacuum. Here, processing is accomplished with the use of laser beams, which are applied to the atomic qubits to store and retrieve information, perform logical operations, and link them together into specific circuits.
This interview is with IonQ CEO and cofounder Chris Monroe, who discusses why he believes his company’s approach has the best chance of making the leap into commercial quantum computing. Monroe thinks solid-state quantum computing processors are a dead end. If they can’t improve on the two percent error rate these systems currently exhibit, he believes it will require too many qubits for error correction to enable a small number of them to be used for logical operations. The confounding problem with this approach is that error rates will tend to rise as more qubits are added due to qubit variance and increased cross-talk, requiring ever greater numbers of error correcting qubits. “That a really hard scaling problem,” he says.
Where IonQ needs to catch up with the competition is in third-party availability. IBM and Google, and even startup Rigetti, have made their quantum machinery available to researchers and even some potential early customers. IonQ does have a few partnerships with academics who have ad-hoc access to its systems, but according to Monroe, they now recognize the need to give their platform wider exposure to researchers and commercial organizations so they can start throwing real live use cases against their technology.