(CosmosMagazine) An Australian team led by Andrew Dzurak from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has made a series of breakthroughs that have suddenly made silicon a leading focus for materials research quantum computer development.
Until now, complex and exotic materials such as honeycomb boron nitride were used to create the quantum entangled pairs that form the qubits, the heart of quantum computation. Although these techniques are incredibly promising they have one significant downside – throwing away the trillions of dollars and decades of research and development invested in the traditional computing material, silicon.
Dzurak commented on his team’s recent accomplishments, “It shows it is possible to read out the state of a quantum bit in a silicon device using only a single wire (in this case a nanoscale electrode), vastly simplifying the on-chip electronics needed for a full-scale quantum processor chip”. The fewer qubits required for processing problems, combined with reducing the size of read-outs required for each qubit enough, dramatically reduces the size and complexity of a quantum computer, thus bringing it that much closer to reality.
The advances have made possible the scaling up of a system using silicon, based on industry-standard complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) transistors, in a joint venture between UNSW, Australian company Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC) and the CMOS chip manufacturing capabilities at the French technology agency CEA.