Station Q, headquarters of potentially world-changing quantum computing research, is located just past where the Pacific Ocean meets the sand, up through a grove of palm trees and across a bike path.
At Station Q, located on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Freedman and his colleagues from all over the world, both inside and outside of Microsoft, explore the exciting, mysterious, difficult and downright strange space where computer science meets quantum physics.
“A very long time – the lifetime of the universe or more,” said Krysta Svore, researcher and manager of Microsoft Research’s Redmond-based Quantum Architectures and Computation group.
Several years into working on quantum topology and physics at Microsoft, Freedman was feeling a bit – well, isolated.
Station Q researchers will continue to try to do very difficult things, he said, including continuing to pinpoint the existence and characteristics of Majorana particles; trying to detect particles called anyons and explore how those particles might make calculations; finding a way to “Braid” strings of anyons through time and space to create stable qubits and therefore quantum properties; and exploring ways to apply topological effects to make qubits more robust.
Freedman and his fellow researchers use donuts to help explain why Station Q is pursuing topological effects in the field quantum computing.
Station Q’s strategy, to build a quantum computer based on “Topological degrees of freedom,” is theoretically harder to get off the ground initially, but if and when they get it working, it will be very scalable.