Building a Scalable Quantum Computer

Duke University

June, 2018
Building a Scalable Quantum Computer
Jungsang Kim, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University

The promise of quantum computers capable of solving the most complex problems imaginable–and addressing questions we haven’t even begun to answer yet–is one fraught with questions and ambitious goals. At Duke University, Jungsang Kim, a professor of electrical and computer engineering has been engineering the components for quantum computers for over a decade.

“We’ve put together and demonstrated all of the individual components needed to build a large, scalable quantum computer,” said Kim. “We are convinced that within the next few years we could turn this technology into much more sophisticated quantum computers with the potential to solve problems considered impossible today.”

Quantum computers have the advantage of occupying many different states at the same time, utilizing qubits to solve each element of a puzzle simultaneously. However, there are several different methods to achieve this. Collaborating with researchers at the University of Maryland, the qubits in Kim’s quantum computer are individually trapped ions—atoms with electrons stripped away to give it a positive electric charge. That charge allows researchers to suspend the atoms using an electromagnetic field in an ultra-high vacuum. They then use precise lasers to manipulate their quantum states.

“Our collaboration actually has a small qubit quantum computer that’s very generally programmable,” explained Kim. “We think we know how to take this system and turn it into a much bigger system that is reliable, stable and much more scalable. We’ve come to a point where we believe that even commercially viable systems can be put together.”

In fact, Kim is so convinced of the viability of this approach that he has co-founded a company, IonQ, which aims to bring a complete quantum computing system to market.

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