A French startup has raised €25m for its room temperature quantum computer systems. Pasqal already has a 196 qubit research system in operation with Institut d’Optique in Paris.
The funding round was led by specialist quantum investment fund Quantonation with Runa Capital, Daphni and Eni Next, as well as the European Commission’s EIC investment fund, which will also take an equity stake.
The funding will be used to advance the development of Pasqal’s analogue and digital quantum processors and build a ‘Quantum Computing as a Service’ hybrid cloud offering as well as international expansion for its team of 25 quantum engineers.
Rather than using ion traps that need to be cryogenically cooled, Pasqal uses neutral atoms as quantum bits that are controlled in arrays of optical tweezers and manipulated one by one.
“Pasqal’s Quantum Processor is based on the arrays of neutral atoms interacting in a Rydberg state. This approach is different from the ones pursued by incumbent players like IBM or Google, but we believe it provides the fastest path for scaling to thousands of high fidelity qubits and achieving quantum advantage for a variety of practical applications,” said Dmitry Galperin, partner at Runa Capital.
“We do not need to manufacture them as they are built by nature and strictly identical, and the setup is operating at room temperature so no complex and bulky cryostat system. Therefore it offers a unique potential for scalability,” says the company.
“We can arrange the atoms, in 1D, 2D and even 3D, in any shape you want and in a fully reprogrammable way. The typical size of a 2D array is 14x14, with a typical interatomic distance of a few microns.”
“Our processors are already working in the 100-200 qubits range as demonstrated by our academic partners from the Institut d’Optique. In a paper, accepted for publication in Nature, they demonstrated a quantum advantage, exploring quantum magnetism, with 196 qubits.
“We already have a working prototype in-house, and we will release, on the cloud, the first 100-200 qubit processors in early 2022. We are targeting 1000 qubits by 2023, the threshold where we expect to reach a quantum advantage for the first industrial usages. This version will be available on-line by 2023.”
Pasqal has also been developing the full computing stack from atomic qubits to software tools for efficient operation and incorporation into major third party programming environment. It is working with the High Performance Computing communities in Italy (CINECA) and France (GENCI), as well as with partner startups and end-users such as utility EDF and financial institutions
“We are thrilled to lead this round and continue to support Pasqal in the next phase of their development. They have shown over the last two years an amazing capacity to turn a highly sophisticated technology into a product, while continuing to do ground breaking work on the applications side” said Dr. Christophe Jurczak, partner at Quantonation.
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