imec teams for quantum photonic circuits

August 17, 2021 // By Peter Clarke
IMEC to make photonic circuits for quantum computing
imec in Belgium is to manufacture photonic circuits for optical quantum computing startup Xanadu in Canada using silicon nitride technology

Belgian research lab imec is to build photonic circuits for a quantum computer being built by a startup in Canada

Xanadu was founded in 2016 to exploit quantum effects in light and form photonic ICs to perform fault-tolerant quantum computations. By operating with light Xanadu expects to mitigate the low temperature requirements of electronic quantum computation. Laser light is used to carry information through Xanadu's optical chips and it is expected that this approach will allow quantum calculation at room temperature, eliminating cooling systems required by most other types of quantum computers.

Xanadu offers cloud access to both photonic quantum hardware and software solutions over its Xanadu Cloud platform. It recently announced a $100 million round led by Bessemer Venture Partners giving a total of $145 million raised so far. PsiQuantum in California is also developeding a photonic quantum computer with components built by GlobalFoundries in Dresden and New York and has raised $450m.

The imec partnership with Xanadu will fabricate ultra-low loss and highly uniform silicon-nitride circuits for error corrected qubits.

These photonic qubits are based on squeezed states - a special type of light generated by chip-integrated silicon photonic devices. Xanadu's photonic approach offers the benefits of scalability to one million qubits via optical networking, room temperature computation, and the natural ability to leverage silicon fabrication.

Competing platforms for photonic quantum computing traditionally rely on single photon sources made from silicon waveguides, which suffer from non-deterministic operation, IMEC said. Squeezed states are deterministically generated, and can be used to distil error-resistant qubits called 'GKP states'.

"imec is one of the few semiconductor R&D centers that does advanced technology R&D on advanced 200mm and 300mm lines, as well as volume manufacturing on their 200mm line, capable of delivering up to a thousand wafers per year per customer on a few platforms including ultralow-loss photonic platforms.


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