NSW Govt gets behind the Sydney Quantum Academy

Thursday, 14 March, 2019

NSW Govt gets behind the Sydney Quantum Academy

The NSW Government has announced its support for a new Sydney Quantum Academy — an initiative of Macquarie University, UNSW Sydney, the University of Sydney and University of Technology Sydney.

The Sydney Quantum Academy seeks to help train the next generation of engineers and scientists in quantum computing, ensuring NSW is a world centre for jobs in the emerging quantum economy. It will develop the industry, attract talent and investment in Australia and internationally, and promote an understanding about quantum computing, simulation and software for local and global companies that want to use these emergent technologies.

The academy will:

  • encourage students to collaborate and train across the four universities;
  • directly link students to industry through internships and research;
  • support the development of quantum technology businesses; and
  • promote Sydney as a global leader in quantum computing.

The NSW Government has announced $15.4 million in funding for the academy. Combined with current university and future industry support, the total investment in the Sydney Quantum Academy will be up to $35 million.

The four partner universities are already deeply involved in developing quantum technology; in fact, the funding announcement comes as UNSW and the University of Sydney announce a new breakthrough in the race to build quantum computers in silicon. Led by Professor Andrew Dzurak at UNSW and Professor David Reilly at the University of Sydney, the researchers have demonstrated that the state, or value, of a quantum bit (qubit) in silicon can be read out in a way that removes the need to have readout sensors alongside the qubits.

Qubits are the building blocks for quantum computers, but billions of them will need to be built in complex arrays before these futuristic machines can be applied to solving important challenges facing humanity. This presents complex design problems.

By removing the need for parallel readout sensors, the researchers have created a computing architecture that is much simpler, meaning many more qubits can be built alongside each other. Their work has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

“This paper has combined using a single-gate electrode technique to read out information — a method developed by David Reilly’s group in 2013 — with the requirement for single-shot readout of qubits that can be manufactured using existing silicon chip technology — a capability we developed in 2014,” Prof Dzurak said. “This mix is very important for scalability.

“Four research teams across the world have developed very similar readout techniques in silicon basically at the same time, all based on David’s single-gate technique — two of them in Australia, one in France and one in the Netherlands.”

“This is a great result that shows that scientific collaboration is key to achieving a fault-tolerant, universal quantum computer,” said Prof Reilly, who is also Director of the Microsoft Quantum Laboratory and a Chief Investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems.

“Such a machine will not be built in a single laboratory or a single institute. It will require cooperation on a global scale, working with some of the biggest technology companies in the world.

“Our result is real evidence that the critical mass of people in Sydney is creating something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s not just parallel activity at different institutions.”

Prof Dzurak, who is Director of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) at UNSW and a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation & Communication Technology, was similarly keen to point out the strength of Sydney’s quantum research ecosystem — no doubt thinking of the potential of the Sydney Quantum Academy to deliver further breakthroughs in future.

“I can’t think of another city in the world with as many people doing quantum computing,” he said. “We have teams at UNSW, Sydney, Macquarie and UTS working across the spectrum: on hardware, quantum control, quantum measurement right through to quantum software. It’s all here in Sydney.”

Image caption: Visualisation of a future silicon-CMOS quantum processor chip, employing single-shot gate-dispersive spin qubit readout. A two-dimensional array of single electron qubits (lower part of image) is held in place in a silicon chip by gate electrodes (square) on the surface, above an oxide insulator, which isolates the electrons from the gates above. Arrows on each qubit indicate the direction of the axis of each electron’s ‘spin’, which contains the qubit information. Dispersive gate readout of qubit state values will be achieved by monitoring an electrical signal applied to individual gate electrodes, such as those highlighted in bright blue (top of image). Image credit: Tony Melov.

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