200 Times Faster Than Ever Before: The Speediest Quantum Operation Yet

A team of scientists from the University of New South Wales, Australia, has discovered the fastest quantum operation to date.
Fabienne Lang

After two decades of work, 2018 Australian of the Year, Professor Michelle Simmons and her team of scientists at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, have reached a major milestone in their quest to build an atom-scale quantum computer.

They've created the fastest quantum operation yet, and it's 200 times speedier than ever before.


Their findings were published in renowned journal Nature on Wednesday.

Why is this discovery useful?

The type of qubits Simmons' team discovered is a promising platform for large-scale quantum computers thanks to their long-lasting stability. 

The quantum potential is massive. A large-scale quantum computer has the potential to transform the industries of the future, solving in mere hours or minutes tasks that would take conventional computers, of even supercomputers, centuries

200 Times Faster Than Ever Before: The Speediest Quantum Operation Yet
The world’s first atomically engineered two-qubit gate. The researchers not only brought the qubits closer together since their last breakthrough – just 13 nanometres apart – but engineered all the control circuitry with sub nanometer precision. Their fabrication technique allows them to place the qubits extremely close for strong interactions and very fast gate times. Source: UNSW

A few of the potentially useful applications that quantum computers can solve include scheduling and logistics planning, financial analysis, early disease detection, and prevention, among other incredibly useful tasks.

How did they do it?

The team built a two-qubit gate by putting two-atom qubits closer together than has ever been done before, and then they were able to observe and measure their spin states - in a controlled manner and in real-time.  

This video posted on Twitter by the Science Dean, Professor Emma Johnston AO, helps to explain the process:

A unique approach deemed almost impossible until now due to its absolutely precise approach.

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Simmons, lead-researcher, and Director of the Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T) said that the past decade of results set the team up in a perfect manner to move these boundaries of what was previously believed to be "humanly possible."

200 Times Faster Than Ever Before: The Speediest Quantum Operation Yet
From left to right: Professor Michelle Simmons, Dr. Sam Gorman, Postdoc Research Associate, Dr. Yu He, Postdoc Research Associate, Ludwik Kranz, PhD student, Dr. Joris Keizer, Senior Research Fellow, Daniel Keith, PhD student. Source: UNSW

Simmons continued: "Optimising every aspect of the device design with atomic precision has now allowed us to build a really fast, highly accurate two-qubit gate, which is the fundamental building block of a scalable, silicon-based quantum computer."

UNSW's Science Dean, Professor Emma Johnston AO said, "This was one of Michelle's team's final milestones to demonstrate that they can actually make a quantum computer using atom qubits. Their next major goal is building a 10-qubit quantum integrated circuit - and we hope they reach that within 3-4 years."

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