• Skip Sanzeri

Critical Breakthrough in Quantum Computer Design

Quantum researchers from the UNSW Sydney have made a massive leap in the advancement of quantum computing by discovering a new technique for controlling large numbers of electron spin qubits in silicon chips. Like many processors in today’s quantum computers, silicon quantum chips are kept in large dilution refrigerators at temperatures within a few millikelvins of absolute zero. These quantum processors use microwave magnetic fields to control and measure qubits, requiring wires to pass electric currents beside the qubits. The heat generated from these wires can destabilize the refrigerated environment, and because magnetic fields drop off quickly with distance, only the qubits closest to the wires can be controlled. The limitations of microwave magnetic fields mean that researchers can only manage a handful of qubits at a time using current techniques.

Researchers at UNSW Sydney have developed a new component, known as a dielectric resonator, which can generate a magnetic field across an entire silicon chip without using electronic wires. The resonator is a crystal prism that sits above the silicon chip, concentrating the microwave wavelengths and allowing researchers to control all the qubits on the chip simultaneously. The removal of electronic wiring from the silicon chip significantly reduces the heat produced by the system and creates space for more qubits on the chip. Researchers believe that this new technique will allow them to control millions of spin qubits at a time. Controlling qubits has been a significant obstacle in scaling quantum processors to the one million qubits believed to be necessary for real-world applications. The development of this technology may exponentially accelerate the growth of quantum processors; however, many engineering challenges still need to be overcome before one million qubit processors are feasible.

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