(TechRadar) Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC),operator of the UK’s only commercially available quantum computer, has recently announced a new partnership with Oxford Instruments Nanoscience, a manufacturer of ultra-low temperature refrigerators.
As per the agreement, OQC will be the first to deploy the new Proteox cryo-refrigerator, which reaches temperatures as low as 5-8 millikelvin (circa -273 °C/-460 °F), significantly colder than outer space.
According to OQC’s CEO Ilana Wisby, the arrival of powerful new refrigerators will allow organizations like hers to take quantum computing to new heights, by improving the “quality” of superconducting quantum bits (qubits).
“Quantum effects only happen in really low-energy environments, and energy is temperature. Ultimately, we need to be at incredibly low temperatures, because we’re working at single-digit electron levels,” she explained.
The colder the system the less “noise and mess” there is, she told TechRadar Pro, because all the other “junk” is frozen out. With the Proteox, then, OQC hopes to be able to scale up the architecture of its quantum machine in a significant way.
The challenge facing organizations working to push quantum computing to the next level is balancing quality, scale and control. Currently, as quantum systems are scaled and an appropriate level of control asserted, the quality decreases and information is lost.
“Achieving all these things in parallel is what’s going to unlock a quantum-enabled future,” says Wisby.
There is work to be done, in other words, before quantum fulfils its potential. But steps forward in the ability to fabricate superconducting devices at scale and developments in areas such as refrigeration are setting the stage.

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