UK scientists make breakthrough in developing quantum computers

13 Feb 2023

Image: © John D./

The University of Sussex researchers claim their method allows microchips to be slotted together like jigsaw pieces to make more powerful quantum computers.

UK researchers claim to have solved a major challenge in building more powerful quantum computers, by successfully transferring data between quantum microchips.

There have been various advances in quantum research in recent years, giving hope to the possibility we’ll be able to use these powerful machines to solve complex problems.

However, even the most powerful quantum computers today only operate with hundreds of qubits, or quantum bits. While these machines are powerful, far more qubits will likely be needed before these machines can truly shine.

One of the challenges to make this a reality is how many qubits a computer chip can hold. In order to solve this, researchers at the University of Sussex have demonstrated a method to accurately transfer qubits between microchips.

In the study published in the scientific journal Nature, the scientists used electric field links to let qubits move from one quantum computing microchip to another.

The team has called this method UQ Connect and said it essentially allows chips to slot together like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, which can then work together to create a more powerful quantum computer.

The researchers said they were able to transfer qubits with a near 100pc success rate and a superior connection rate. They also claim these figures are both world records that are orders of magnitude better than previous methods.

University of Sussex Prof Winfried Hensinger said the team knew a “modular approach” was the key to make quantum computers that can solve the most challenging problems, as these machines will eventually be constrained by the size of microchips.

“In demonstrating that we can connect two quantum computing chips – a bit like a jigsaw puzzle – and, crucially, that it works so well, we unlock the potential to scale-up by connecting hundreds or even thousands of quantum computing microchips,” Hensinger said.

Hensinger is a co-founder of Universal Quantum which was involved in the study. This organisation has been awarded €67m from the German Aerospace Center to build two quantum computers, where this new method will be deployed.

Last month, physicists from University College Dublin and Stanford University created a new type of analogue computer with quantum components to try to solve some of the most complex problems in physics.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic