Q-CTRL and the quiet obsession with quantum

Quantum computing has a moment now. He is the hot topic on the lips of world leaders and investors. As recently as last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged that the UK would get into “quantum computing”. And our own Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has announced a new master plan for critical technologies that includes an investment of A $ 100 million over the next decade to establish a new quantum commercialization center.

And there’s a reason everyone is suddenly so obsessed. It’s a completely different way of computing than anything we’ve seen before. It is expected to make huge strides in infrastructure and defense research areas like artificial intelligence and cryptography.

Technology company Honeywell predicts that the quantum computing industry will be worth US $ 1 trillion over the next 30 years.

Many will recognize Australian start-up Q-CTRL as a global leader in this growing industry and founder and CEO Professor Michael Biercuk as one of its leaders.

Founder and Managing Director of Q-CTRL, Professor Michael Biercuk

The company made headlines earlier this year after publishing new methods to reduce errors in the quantum computing process caused by environmental ‘noise’ – by far the biggest challenge in the field and something which has so far held back its scalability and growth. Q-CTRL has now been named a finalist in the Defense category for the InnovationAus 2021 Awards for Excellence.

The important thing to know about quantum computing is that it is not a replacement technology for today’s computers.

It’s a technology that has the potential to solve problems we can’t even begin to tackle yet: climate modeling, more efficient solar capture and battery storage, unbreakable encryption, investment products, more efficient drugs. .

“Quantum computing is as different from conventional computing as today’s computers are from an abacus,” says Professor Biercuk.

“We shouldn’t think of quantum computing as the next generation of laptops or cloud servers. Instead, we should think of it as a whole different way of encoding and processing information. “

Without going into the deep physics of the thing, quantum computers operate by going through billions of scenarios and accurately calculating the probability of a given outcome.

It is theorized that a quantum computer will eventually be able to calculate problems that would take a contemporary supercomputer billions of years to solve.

“One of my favorite areas of development for quantum algorithms is quantum chemistry and materials science,” says Professor Biercuk.

“We are currently very good at characterizing chemicals and materials – determining color, hardness, reaction rates, and so on. in computers.

A quantum computer can, in theory, go through all possible combinations of structures to essentially invent a new material perfectly suited to a specified purpose.

“Quantum computers are good at different problems than our general-purpose machines today because they obey different rules – rules that exploit certain properties of quantum physics that may offer advantages for certain types of problems. », Explains Professor Biercuk. “The excitement comes from the importance of these issues.”

And it is the nature of the problems that quantum computing will be able to solve that has moved everyone so much.

China, in particular, has made strides in the fields of quantum computing and quantum communication in recent years, setting up what some call the 21st century space race, or more specifically the quantum race.

Due to the applicability of quantum computing in the fields of cybersecurity, defense logistics and financial market structures, being at the forefront in cracking the quantum code is considered of vital importance. .

And environmental noise correction is the absolute backbone of the whole effort. Until this is perfected, quantum computing will not be able to exceed a few hundred qubits (the quantum analogue of a traditional computer bit).

This makes Q-CTRL a really big deal. Its tools already offer more than 25 times the performance benefits for quantum algorithms demonstrated in existing hardware.

“We predict that over the next few years we will cross the threshold of quantum advantage – where it is actually advantageous to select a quantum solution over the best conventional alternative,” says Professor Biercuk. “The quantum future is closer than we ever thought possible.”

Q-CTRL is a finalist in the Defense category of the InnovationAus 2021 Awards for Excellence.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley by email.


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