UCD spin-out reveals ‘major milestone’ for quantum computing

13 May 2021

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Silicon-based quantum computing company Equal1 says it is the first company to demonstrate a fully integrated quantum processing unit operating at 3.7 Kelvin.

Equal1, a spin-out from University College Dublin (UCD), has made what it’s referring to as a “major breakthrough” for the quantum computing industry.

It announced today (13 May) that it is the first company to demonstrate a fully integrated quantum processor unit (QPU) operating at 3.7 Kelvin.

Founded by Dirk Leipold, Mike Asker and Prof R Bogdan Staszewski, Equal1 is split between Dublin and Fremont, California. The company was named NovaUCD’s spin-out of the year in March.

Its finding addresses one of the biggest challenges in quantum computing: scaling the number of qubits so that a quantum computer can solve real-world problems.

Equal1’s quantum processing unit has patented nanometre-scale quantum dots to create qubits on a standard silicon CMOS process, a commercially available semiconductor fabrication technique.

In addition to these silicon qubits, all of the required control and read-out electronics for a fully functioning QPU are integrated on-chip with more than 10m transistors.

The company’s quantum processor unit can also maintain the chip at 3.7 Kelvin and interface to room temperature, thanks to a cryogenic and vacuum system designed by the team

In addition, its integrated composition means that the electronic pulses controlling the qubits are also generated on the chip itself. This makes them “extremely fast”, the team said, and allows for a “short enough pulse time for the quantum processing unit to demonstrate quantum behaviour”.

Equal1 describes its solution as “disruptive, scalable and cost-effective”. It also claims this fully integrated QPU is far smaller than existing alternatives, describing it as “rack-sized versus room-sized”.

CTO Elaine Blokhina said her team is “proud of the milestone accomplishment” and “excited to scale” the technology to the next level.

“Our team’s ability to demonstrate quantum behaviour on a fully integrated quantum processing unit will enable us to soon solve challenges in AI that cannot be solved today,” she said.

The team has also proven the repeatability of the results and consistency with quantum modelling and simulations.

“By taking advantage of shrinking transistor geometries, we have demonstrated that integration into the millions of qubit range is possible, with moderate cooling requirements compared to other qubit technologies,” Leipold said.

“Our quantum computing technology delivers affordable AI solutions to our customers at a much lower carbon footprint.”

Equal1’s research was supported by funding from Atlantic Bridge, Enterprise Ireland and 808 Ventures.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021