(Singularity.hub) In 2017 researchers from the University of Sussex in the UK put forward a bold plan for a modular quantum computer that could quickly scale up to billions of qubits. And now a startup founded by the same team, called Universal Quantum, has come out of stealth with plans to commercialize the idea.
The company is taking a different tack to the market leaders, building its qubits out of trapped ions—charged atoms confined in a particular spot using using electromagnetic fields—rather than the superconducting circuits that have become the most popular solution in recent years.
Trapped ions are promising because they are all identical and therefore don’t suffer from the tiny variations in fabrication that can impact superconducting circuits. It’s also possible to push them into particular states and read those states back out with high fidelity. And most importantly, they are able to maintain their fragile quantum states for much longer than other approaches, which gives them more time to carry out calculations.
Universal Quantum plans to use microwaves to control the qubits, relying on the same technology that is found in cell phones. They plan to build modular components of roughly 2,500 qubits which can then be linked together to create larger systems.
Betting against some of the largest and most powerful technology companies in the world is certainly a risky strategy. But if this plucky startup can pull off its vision, the quantum age may not be as distant as we think.

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