Quick Quantum Quips: August quantum developments advance multiple rival architectures, with education and standards rising in importance

Welcome to TBR’s monthly newsletter on the quantum computing market: Quick Quantum Quips (Q3). This market changes rapidly, and the hype can often distract from the realities of the actual technological developments. This newsletter keeps the community up to date on recent announcements while stripping away the hype around developments.

For more details, reach out to Geoff Woollacott or Jacob Fong to set up a time to chat.

August Developments

The overall quantum market has seen an uptick in announcements and a trickle of introductory articles hitting mainstream media. On the one hand, quantum articles delivered to a broader audience can exacerbate the so-called hype cycle, but on the other hand the articles highlight that ongoing efforts in scientific discovery across the broader quantum landscape are beginning to show promise for delivering commercial-grade quantum computing infrastructure for businesses, academia and governments to use for advantage rather than just for exploration and experimentation with quantum logical constructs. For example, both Honeywell/Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) and Q-Ctrl released research signaling improvements in quantum error correction (QEC), which is crucial to the development of fault-tolerant quantum systems — the aspirational objective — of all quantum systems vendors today. In turn, IonQ announced a reconfigurable multicore quantum architecture (RMQA) that it believes has the potential to increase qubit counts into the triple digits on a single chip. Xanadu made announcements regarding advancements in photonic — or light-based — quantum computing in a form factor the size of a penny that could one day eclipse the early advantage of the superconducting and trapped ion architectures.

IBM hosted a two-day virtual event for academia to discuss the curricula necessary to provide native quantum credentials to those entering the workforce at the dawn of this era in the ever-evolving technology sector. The Hudson Institute’s Quantum Alliance Initiative (QAI) added another partner, Quantum eMotion, to its efforts to create global standards for quantum communications that will be necessary for the scaled utilization of this game-changing compute technology.

Honeywell/CQC and Q-CTRL: Both entities promoted advancements in QEC in an effort to optimize qubit computational accuracy. QEC is a critical tool many quantum system vendors, such as IBM, are investing considerable time and energy in trying to perfect, as it is necessary to achieve fault-tolerant quantum that can address not only noise on stored quantum information but also faulty quantum gates, quantum preparation and measurements. QEC is at the heart of quantum advantages in computation by delivering precise outputs with lower time and cost input. The importance of QEC also indicates that a broad quantum ecosystem is necessary to make the computational potential of quantum a reality.

IonQ made a major announcement in late August about a patent-pending chip design offering tighter ion confinement, improved ion lifetime and reduced ion heating that relies on IonQ’s technological platform, which is called Evaporated Glass Traps (EGTs). The architecture is expected to allow IonQ to scale qubit count on its quantum chips without suffering qubit fidelity performance losses.

Xanadu and imec: Xanadu, a Canada-based quantum computing company, collaborated with Belgium-based fabricator imec around photonic or light computing and has moved to the point of early production. The partnership illustrates the need for a broad ecosystem of quantum adjacent businesses capable of taking lab innovations into scaled production.

IBM Quantum Educators Summit: IBM sponsored a virtual summit Aug. 3-4 aimed at high school and undergraduate educators seeking to learn how to incorporate foundational quantum computing elements into their courses. Of interest to TBR in auditing the conference was the premise put forth by the speakers that the world’s quantum experts are actually quantum immigrants, having come to the field from other academic tracks such as physics and mathematics. As such, the fundamental impetus for the summit was to assist academia in assembling the proper curricula to prepare native quantum professionals for students interested in the growing number of quantum — and quantum-adjacent — professional tracks that will arise as the leading innovators develop fault-tolerant quantum.

Quantum eMotion: Montreal-based Quantum eMotion announced it joined the Hudson Institute’s QAI, which is an international consortium of companies, institutions and academics. QAI seeks to establish policies that will serve as guardrails for quantum as the technology emerges into a mature and mission-critical element of global business and research. A primary focus for the organization is looking at the impact the domain will have on national security and on the economy and how QAI can foster global standards for securing quantum communication. With individual nation states and regions all vying to assure a quantum gravity center and the high value jobs that will come with it, the establishment of these standard protocols has been both a delicate and sclerotic process.

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