Researchers at Simon Fraser University Silicon Quantum Technology Lab have recently published a recent study in Nature discussing an extraordinary breakthrough in quantum technology, and more specifically, the development of a quantum internet. Their study discusses the observations of over 150,000 silicon “T-center” qubits, which is short for quantum bit, and is the counterpart in quantum computing to the binary digit or bit of classical computing. This research marks a opens doors to immediate opportunities to in building scalable quantum computers, and ultimately, the quantum internet that will connect all of them.
The goal of quantum computing is to ultimately solve problems that are too complex for classical computers. Such problems often include developing models with large amounts of variable that are interacting in complicated ways. Often, scientists turn to supercomputers to do these kinds of immense calculations, but sometimes supercomputers can’t do the task, either. Some potential applications of quantum computing include artificial intelligence and machine learning, drug design and development, weather forecasting, and cybersecurity.
A important milestone in making a quantum computing a reality is producing both stable, and long-lived qubits capable of providing both processing power and the communications technology to link together on a large scale.
While past research has shown that silicon can create some of the most stable, long-lived qubits in the industry, this most recent study demonstrates that T-centers, which are a specific luminescent defect in silicon, are capable of providing a “photonic link” between qubits.
"This work is the first measurement of single T-centers in isolation, and actually, the first measurement of any single spin in silicon to be performed with only optical measurements," says Stephanie Simmons, a co-author on the study. "An emitter like the T-center that combines high-performance spin qubits and optical photon generation is ideal to make scalable, distributed, quantum computers, because they can handle the processing and the communications together, rather than needing to interface two different quantum technologies, one for processing and one for communications."
Since silicon is already manufactured at the global scale, forming the backbone of all modern computing, the development of quantum computers using silicon could open doors to scale quantum computing very quickly.
"By finding a way to create quantum computing processors in silicon, you can take advantage of all of the years of development, knowledge, and infrastructure used to manufacture conventional computers, rather than creating a whole new industry for quantum manufacturing," Simmons says. "This represents an almost insurmountable competitive advantage in the international race for a quantum computer."
As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!