Google presents 72-qubit quantum computer

A Bristlecone chip being installed by Research Scientist Marissa Giustina at the Quantum AI Lab in Santa Barbara

A Bristlecone chip being installed by Research Scientist Marissa Giustina at the Quantum AI Lab in Santa Barbara

Google are one of many tech companies pursuing a quantum future, but their research is starting to yield some genuinely promising results.

"Today we presented Bristlecone, our new quantum processor, at the annual American Physical Society meeting in Los Angeles". But the company has noted that if it can achieve a two-qubit error rate below 0.5 percent on a 49-qubit system, it can demonstrate quantum supremacy. The chip is a 72-qubit quantum computing chip meant to be used by researchers at the forefront of the field. It is now clear that the crown has been snatched away from the latter.

Using electrodes that were patterned onto the chip with similar precision techniques, the researchers were able to control the interactions between the two neighbouring qubits, so the quantum spins of their electrons became correlated or entangled.

Quantum computing, or computing based on the principles of physics' most head-scratching topic, has entered a new era in which it's doing things that are classically hard.

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The Bristlecone chip has outdone its 9-qubit chip predecessor when it comes to quantum error correction, a significant factor that keeps hypersensitive qubits from getting corrupted.

If Google does achieve quantum supremacy with Bristlecone, that's just one of many important milestones in quantum computing, and would potentially be a task most useful for benchmarking the computer's performance. "Crucially, the processor must also have low error rates on readout and logical operations, such as single and two-qubit gates", Google said.

Google reckons it's on the cusp of demonstrating "quantum supremacy" with the development of a 72-qubit processor.

"By introducing quantum computing services on cloud, we make it easier for the teams to experiment with quantum applications in a real environment to better understand the property and performance of the hardware, as well as leading the way in developing quantum tools and software globally". "We can assign a single system error by applying random quantum circuits to the device and checking the sampled output distribution against a classical simulation".

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Google has unveiled its new quantum computing processor called Bristlecone and it is expected to help the search engine giant achieve "quantum supremacy" in the future. This 49-qubit chip was a big step for Intel, but Mike Mayberry, managing director of Intel Labs, believes "it will be five to seven years before the industry gets to tackling engineering-scale problems, and it will likely require 1 million or more qubits to achieve commercial relevance".

In their latest work, Simmons' team created two qubits - one comprising two phosphorous atoms and the other using just one - and placed them 16 nanometres apart.

Researchers are working so hard to bring us quantum computers because they believe the devices will inevitably outperform classical supercomputers.

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