(Phys.org) Today’s quantum computers contain up to several dozen memory and processing units, the so-called qubits. Severin Daiss, Stefan Langenfeld, and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching have successfully interconnected two such qubits located in different labs to a distributed quantum computer by linking the qubits with a 60-meter-long optical fiber. Over such a distance they realized a quantum-logic gate—the basic building block of a quantum computer. It makes the system the worldwide first prototype of a distributed quantum computer.
The team succeeded in connecting two qubit modules across a 60-meter distance in such a way that they effectively form a basic quantum computer with two qubits. “Across this distance, we perform a quantum computing operation between two independent qubit setups in different laboratories,” Daiss emphasizes. This enables the possibility to merge smaller quantum computers to a joint processing unit.
Team leader and institute director Gerhard Rempe believes the result will allow to further advance the technology: “Our scheme opens up a new development path for distributed quantum computing.” It could enable, for instance, to build a distributed quantum computer consisting of many modules with few qubits that are interconnected with the newly introduced method. This approach could circumvent the limitation of existing quantum computers to integrate more qubits into a single setup and could therefore allow more powerful systems.
The basic computing operations of a quantum computer are quantum-logic gates between two qubits. Such an operation changes—depending on the initial state of the qubits—their quantum mechanical states. For a quantum computer to be superior to a normal computer for various calculations, it would have to reliably interconnect many dozens, or even thousands of qubits for equally thousands of quantum operations. Despite great successes, all current laboratories are still struggling to build such a large and reliable quantum computer, since every additionally required qubit makes it much harder to build a quantum computer in just one single set-up.