Archer assembles 'few-qubit array' for quantum chip

Monday, 02 December, 2019

Archer assembles 'few-qubit array' for quantum chip

Archer Materials has announced the latest progress in its pioneering quantum technology project, known as 12CQ, by assembling and patterning a nanometre-size array (‘few-qubit array’) of several individual qubit material components of a prototype room-temperature operating quantum computing qubit processor.

To assemble the few-qubit array of Archer’s chip, three individual qubits were isolated on a silicon wafer with metallic control electrode components aligned and deposited around the qubit array with nanoscale precision (top image). The electrodes will allow for the measurement of quantum information stored on the individual qubits. The process was possible due to a recent 12CQ chip development breakthrough of precision positioning of qubits, and was carried out at room temperature within the Research and Prototype Foundry cleanroom at the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, University of Sydney.

Archer staff operating instrumentation used in the fabrication of chip prototypes at the University of Sydney. The yellow-orange light in the facility is a feature of the tightly regulated environment (temperature, humidity and light) to mitigate the risk of the external environment destroying the fabricated devices.

The arrangement of the qubits was repeatable and reproducible, thereby allowing Archer to quickly build and test working prototypes of quantum information processing devices incorporating a number of qubits, individual qubits or a combination of both, which is necessary to meet the company’s aim of building a chip for a practical quantum computer. Further improvements and optimisation to the process are likely to reduce the time required to build a working chip prototype.

The ability to build qubit arrays is a key requirement for developing a scalable and useful chip. To achieve this, Archer uses a carbon-based qubit that has the potential to enable chip operation at room-temperature and integration onboard modern devices. The qubit is the fundamental component of Archer’s 12CQ prototype chip, as without the qubit, quantum computing cannot be performed.

“A useful chip will need to have a number of qubits arranged in various patterns in order to run a number of algorithms, for example, to perform transactions, secure communication or in error-correcting quantum information processing,” said Archer CEO Dr Mohammad Choucair.

“Today’s quantum computers have at best a few dozen qubits, so it is important we unambiguously showed the possibility of scaling our chip qubits early in development. With a few-qubit array we can advance to the next stages of development, which involve quantum information measurement.”

Archer intends to continue the technology de-risking, value-added development of the 12CQ qubit processor chip, by completing the next stages of component assembly and device measurements towards a proof-of-concept prototype chip. The company intends to commercialise chip products through licensing and direct sales by seeking to establish commercial partnerships with highly resourced organisations including software developers and hardware manufacturers, which could allow for product scale, IP transfer and distribution channels.

“This excellent achievement advances our chip technology development towards a minimum viable product and strengthens our commercial readiness by providing credibility to the claim of 12CQ chips being potentially scalable [and therefore useful],” said Choucair. “To build an array of a few qubits in less than a year means we are well and truly on track in our development roadmap taking us into 2020.”

Top image: Electron microscopy image of three isolated qubits (spherical shapes false-coloured in red-orange), positioned into an array on a silicon wafer surface, with each approximately 50 nm in size. Metallic control electrodes (false-coloured in grey-blue) aligned with nanoscale precision to the qubits. The width and height of the electrodes are comparable to the dimensions of the qubits, and compatible with modern electronic device features.

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