Glass Processors Developed for Quantum Computing

A company breaking out of conventional silicon semiconductor technology has started producing glass-based compressed ion computing chips for use in computing.

IonQ, a company with ties to Duke University and the Duke Quantum Center, announced the development of a glass-based compressed ion computing chip that will replace silicon-based designs.

The company has previously offered 32-qubit machines to customers by delivering systems to major cloud service providers, including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud. IonQ calls its new architecture a “reconfigurable multi-core quantum architecture,” RMQA for short.

Computers calculate using the quantum states of ions electromagnetically trapped in the cavity inside a chip. Prior art had used silicon chip making processes. In the new approach, micrometer-scale fields are created in fused silica glass used to make microfluidic chips.

Future research on quantum computing continues, and there are some different approaches. IonQ preferred the compressed ion technique to solve problems that were impossible to solve on a classical Turing-based computer and achieve quantum supremacy.

In fact, there are different companies like AQT and Honeywell exploring this area. This particular approach works by dispersing and fixing electrically charged atoms (ions) in magnetic fields on a given substrate within a sealed glass chip. The qubits in this design are stored in electronic media and, after being accelerated by powerful laser beams, the ions are allowed to interact with the qubits.

IonQ claims to achieve the highest qubit lifetime currently known by choosing this compressed ion approach and glass-structured chip technology. On the other hand, they say, large numbers of qubits can be connected and work together in this way.

Glass, as everyone knows, is an insulating object. The special design of the glass chips was developed to allow the laser beams to interact with maximum precision with the chains of qubit ions suspended within.

A chip with a total of 64 qubits has now been demonstrated by the company, built on this new approach. This design consists of four separate units of 16 qubits. However, only 48 of the qubits mentioned can actually provide computing power. The remaining 16 qubits are used as “cooling” ions that correct system flaws and fluctuations that may occur within the chip.


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