European project for commercial silicon quantum processor

European project for commercial silicon quantum processor

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

A research consortium is aiming to position Europe as a global leader in quantum computing with a CMOS silicon quantum processor.

The €15m ($17.7m) QLSI (Quantum Large-Scale Integration with Silicon) project brings together many of the world leading quantum research and development institutions. The silicon partners include Infineon Dresden, STMicroelectronics, Soitec and Hitachi, as well as French supercomputer developer Atos.

The four-year project is coordinated by CEA-Leti to lay the foundation for the EU’s industrial-scale implementation of semiconductor quantum processors using spin qubits. This is the leading platform for scaling to very large numbers of quantum bits, or qubits, says CEA.

This is an addition to the €1bn, ten year Quantum Flagship R&D program announced in 2018 and runs alongside other European quantum processor projects beig led by Infineon and other semiconductor companies.

The partners have already achieved many of the key advances in the field of silicon quantum, with the first spin qubits made on mass-production CMOS in 2016.  The QLSI consortium will take this principle to the next level with the demonstration of a 16-qubit chip, and will also make an 8-qubit chip available for external use through the Quantum Inspire open-access quantum cloud environment. 

Quantum processors will be key to major advances in computing, sensing and metrology, simulations, cryptography, and telecommunications. In the long term, quantum computing has the potential to solve computational problems that would take current supercomputers longer than the age of the universe. These systems will also be able to recognize patterns and train artificial intelligence systems.

“Europe is well-positioned to take the EU’s spin-qubit R&D to the next level, in what is a high-stakes competition among advanced technological countries,” said Maud Vinet, CEA-Leti’s quantum hardware program manager. “The QLSI project ramps up a dedicated effort across all leading European groups in the field of spin qubits to develop complete processor systems that eventually will reach the thousands of qubits expected as a first step to show the potential for universal, error-corrected quantum computing.”

The QLSI project will see the fabrication and operation of 16-qubit quantum processors based on industry-compatible semiconductor technology and demonstrate reliable single- and two-qubit gates, with read-out and initialization in the lab.

These gates will be used for a quantum computer prototype, with online open-access for the community, integrating such a high-quality quantum processor in a semi-industrial environment up to eight qubits available online. This will then form the basis of how to scale the technology to large system of over 1000 qubits, which will also require more complex controllers and cryogenics to keep the qubits at ultra-low temperatures.

This is a different research track from quantum photonics that aims to deliver CMOS chips with thousands of qubits that operate at room temperature using light. These are already available online, as are quantum computing services from Amazon Web Services and IBM. 

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