Quantum Physicist Invents New Error-Correcting Code to Achieve the Impossible

The researcher applied a three-dimensional code to a two-dimensional framework.
Loukia Papadopoulos

A physicist at the University of Sydney has achieved something that many researchers previously thought was impossible. He has developed a type of error-correcting code for quantum computers that will free up more hardware.


His solution also delivers an approach that will allow companies to build better quantum microchips. Dr. Benjamin Brown from the School of Physics achieved this impressive feat by applying a three-dimensional code to a two-dimensional framework.

"The trick is to use time as the third dimension. I'm using two physical dimensions and adding in time as the third dimension," Brown said in a statement. "This opens up possibilities we didn't have before."

"It's a bit like knitting," he added. "Each row is like a one-dimensional line. You knit row after row of wool and, over time, this produces a two-dimensional panel of material."

Quantum computing is rampant with errors. As such, one of the biggest obstacles scientists face before they can build machines large enough to solve problems is reducing these errors.

"Because quantum information is so fragile, it produces a lot of errors," said Brown.

Getting rid of these errors entirely is impossible. Instead, researchers are seeking to engineer a new error-tolerant system where useful processing operations outweigh error-correcting ones. This is exactly what Brown achieved.

"My approach to suppressing errors is to use a code that operates across the surface of the architecture in two dimensions. The effect of this is to free up a lot of the hardware from error correction and allow it to get on with the useful stuff," Brown explained.

The result is an approach that could change quantum computing forever.

"This result establishes a new option for performing fault-tolerant gates, which has the potential to greatly reduce overhead and bring practical quantum computing closer," said Dr. Naomi Nickerson, Director of Quantum Architecture at PsiQuantum in Palo Alto, California, who is not connected to the research. 

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