Quantum computer goes underground

Quantum computer goes underground

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Researchers in Sweden are using a 2km deep mine to protect quantum computers from the radiation from space that limits their computation time

So researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, and University of Waterloo in Canada are using the mine to test the effect of shielding for superconducting qubits in a quantum computer.

The qubits are manufactured at Chalmers University of Technology will first be tested above ground in both Sweden and Canada. Next, the same qubits will be tested far below the Canadian ground so that differences between the two environments may be studied.

Cosmic radiation is a recently discovered cause of errors in quantum computers. The highly charged particles from space disturb the sensitive qubits and cause them to lose their quantum state, as well as the ability to continue a calculation.

The error correction methods used on quantum computers today assume that each error caused by cosmic rays occurs independently of each other. This is an incorrect assessment, since these kinds of errors, on the contrary, usually correlate with each other. Current error correction methods cannot correct correlating errors, which means that multiple qubits can lose their quantum state at the same time. By increasing the understanding of the qubit processes, the researchers now want to find methods to reduce the number of correlated errors.

“We are super excited about this project because it addresses the very important question of how cosmic radiation affects qubits and quantum processors. Gaining access to this underground facility is crucial to understanding how the effects of cosmic radiation can be mitigated,” says Per Delsing, Professor of Quantum Technology at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, and Director of the Wallenberg Center for Quantum Technology.

“SNOLAB maintains the lowest muon flux in the world and has advanced cryogenics testing capabilities, making it an ideal place to conduct valuable research on quantum technologies,” says Jeter Hall, Director of research at SNOLAB and Adjunct Professor at Laurentian University in Canada.

“With this project, we hope to start understanding what’s going on with the qubit decoherence in relation to cosmic rays, and then start understanding how the radiation affects the qubits in more controlled ways,” says Dr. Chris Wilson, Professor at the University of Waterloo and active at the Institute for Quantum Computing in Ontario.

The project is carried out in collaboration between Chalmers University of Technology, the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and SNOLAB near Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.



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