Now, UNSW engineers believe they have cracked the problem, reimagining the silicon microprocessors we know to create a complete design for a quantum computer chip that can be manufactured using mostly standard industry processes and components.
“With quantum computing, we are on the verge of another technological leap that could be as deep and transformative. But a complete engineering design to realise this on a single chip has been elusive. I think what we have developed at UNSW now makes that possible. And most importantly, it can be made in a modern semiconductor manufacturing plant,” he added.
“Our chip blueprint incorporates a new type of error-correcting code designed specifically for spin qubits, and involves a sophisticated protocol of operations across the millions of qubits. It’s the first attempt to integrate into a single chip all of the conventional silicon circuitry needed to control and read the millions of qubits needed for quantum computing.”
There are at least five major quantum computing approaches being explored worldwide: silicon spin qubits, ion traps, superconducting loops, diamond vacancies and topological qubits; UNSW’s design is based on silicon spin qubits.
That’s why UNSW’s new design is so exciting: relying on its silicon spin qubit approach – which already mimics much of the solid-state devices in silicon that are the heart of the US$380 billion global semiconductor industry – it shows how to dovetail spin qubit error correcting code into existing chip designs, enabling true universal quantum computation.
The design is a leap forward in silicon spin qubits; it was only two years ago, in a paper in Nature, that Dzurak and Veldhorst showed, for the first time, how quantum logic calculations could be done in a real silicon device, with the creation of a two-qubit logic gate – the central building block of a quantum computer.
The UNSW team has struck a A$83 million deal between UNSW, Telstra, Commonwealth Bank and the Australian and New South Wales governments to develop, by 2022, a 10-qubit prototype silicon quantum integrated circuit – the first step in building the world’s first quantum computer in silicon.