5-qubit quantum computer now operational in Finland

Friday, 03 December, 2021

5-qubit quantum computer now operational in Finland

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, together with quantum computing hardware startup IQM, has announced that the country’s first operational 5-qubit quantum computer is now up and running — a milestone that should help enable the building of quantum computers that are both scalable and easier to manufacture.

The incredible computing performance of quantum computers makes it possible to solve problems that are beyond the capabilities of modern high-performance computers. In the future, quantum computers will be used, for instance, to accurately model viruses and drugs or used to design materials that are challenging to design with today’s technology.

“The development of quantum computing will affect all industries,” said Pekka Pursula, Research Manager at VTT. “Our experience in building the quantum computer, and our know-how in developing quantum algorithms, will help us develop quantum foresight to, for example, identify future trends and support companies in understanding how and when their business will be affected.

“The best way to do this will be for companies to work together with VTT, and actually use our new hardware.”

The newly unveiled 5-qubit quantum computer is located at Micronova, part of OtaNano — Finland’s national research infrastructure for micro and nanotechnology, jointly run by VTT and Aalto University. Dr Jan Goetz, CEO and co-founder of IQM, said the completion of this phase makes IQM “one of the very few quantum companies that can deliver an on-premises quantum computer to a customer”.

VTT and IQM now aim to build together a much more powerful 50-qubit quantum computer by 2024 and to further develop Finland’s expertise in quantum computing. Dr Goetz said of the new computer, “This is just the first phase of the delivery and, because of our ability to upgrade the systems, we are looking forward to working with VTT on delivering the 20-qubit and the 50-qubit systems.”

Separate to this, VTT has been selected by Canadian full-stack photonic quantum computing company Xanadu as a partner to accelerate the development of the latter’s photonic quantum computers. VTT will leverage its expertise in quantum technology, photonics and microelectronics integration to provide Xanadu with the volume and quality of components required to build a fault-tolerant universal quantum computer.

The first project in this partnership is focused on scalable manufacturing of superconducting photon detectors, which are used in Xanadu’s quantum computer to measure entangled quantum states of light. These detectors count how many photons are present in each output of Xanadu’s photonic chips. The number of photons encodes information that enables the synthesis of error-corrected qubits for fault-tolerant quantum computation.

“We chose to work with VTT based on their experience in fabrication, combined with their capability to manufacture our needed components in significant quantities,” said Matthew Collins, Xanadu’s Low Temperature Team Lead. “Their technical expertise, as well as their openness and business-friendly manner, make us confident that this technical partnership will bring us closer to a fault-tolerant quantum computer, capable of solving the world’s biggest computation problems.”

“At VTT, we are committed to advancing the field of quantum technologies through research and strategic partnerships with companies that have the ambition to be pioneers in their fields,” added Tauno Vähä-Heikkilä, VTT’s Vice President of Microelectronics and Quantum Technology. “We see a lot of potential in our partnership with Xanadu to continue and grow in the future.”

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