Researchers ‘teleport’ crucial component of quantum computer

6 Sep 2018

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A team of researchers has brought us one step closer to a modular quantum computer by ‘teleporting’ one of its crucial components.

A world with commercially available quantum computers would be remarkably different to the one we have today, with systems capable of churning through data on a truly unprecedented scale.

However, there is still quite a long way to go before these systems leave the confines of huge labs at Google, IBM and other institutions.

To hopefully change this, a team of Yale University researchers has successfully demonstrated one of the key steps in building the architecture for modular quantum computers by ‘teleporting’ a quantum operation – otherwise called a ‘gate’ – between two qubits, on demand.

How does it work?

Publishing its findings in Nature, the team explained that the key principle behind this achievement is through quantum teleportation. This is a science-fiction-like feature of quantum mechanics previously shown to send unknown quantum states between two parties, without physically sending the state itself.

In this latest instance, the Yale team demonstrated a quantum gate without relying on any direct interaction. This is essential for quantum computing among networks of quantum systems as it is believed to be able to offset any errors found in quantum computing processors.

A major first

With this basis, the researchers wanted to create modular quantum computing, whereby a collection of modules would function separately as small quantum processors in a larger network.

While this separation is good for reducing any unwanted interactions among each module, it also hinders its performance. Using this new ‘teleportation’ technique, however, we can overcome this major challenge.

“Our work is the first time that this protocol has been demonstrated where the classical communication occurs in real time, allowing us to implement a ‘deterministic’ operation that performs the desired operation every time,” said Kevin Chou of the research team.

Chou’s research partner, Robert Schoelkopf, added: “It is a milestone toward quantum information processing using error-correctable qubits.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic