US govt invests in Sydney quantum research


Wednesday, 04 May, 2016

US govt invests in Sydney quantum research

An international consortium, comprising European groups and the University of Sydney, has been awarded a multimillion-dollar research grant from the US government agency Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) for research into quantum technology.

The consortium includes the Quantum Control Laboratory, based at the newly launched Sydney Nanoscience Hub at the University of Sydney. The laboratory is the only team based in Australia that has been selected for the funding, which will go towards delivering a logical qubit (quantum-bit) based on trapped ions.

“Ions represent a fantastic platform helping us to learn how we can exploit the most exotic phenomena in quantum physics as resources powering a new generation of technologies,” said Laboratory Director Associate Professor Michael Biercuk.

“There remain enormous challenges bringing any quantum computing technology to reality, but trapped ions have demonstrated the critical building blocks essential for this effort, decades ahead of other proposed technologies.”

Quantum computing promises dramatic advantages over conventional computation, but progress has been stymied by the fragility of systems obeying the strange rules of quantum physics. IARPA’s LogiQ program aims to overcome these challenges by effectively stabilising the quantum hardware, funding efforts to overcome the limitations of current multiqubit systems by building a logical qubit from a number of imperfect physical qubits.

 “A logical qubit is considered a Holy Grail in quantum information,” said Associate Professor Biercuk. “The concept underlying this program is that delicate quantum states can be preserved indefinitely — and put to work performing useful computational tasks — if the information they carry is physically spread out over many qubits.

“Achieving this requires a major undertaking combining fundamental quantum physics with practical engineering expertise, because building a logical qubit requires the underlying quantum hardware to perform extraordinarily well.”

The Quantum Control Laboratory was apparently sought out by the agency for its expertise in combining quantum physics with control engineering in order to make the quantum hardware more resilient to error. Associate Professor Biercuk said US agencies seek the lab’s expertise in “learning how quantum systems can be coaxed into performing useful tasks and put to work in technological applications”.

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