By comparison, a quantum computer could efficiently solve this problem using Shor's algorithm to find its factors. “If we talk to Dave Wineland’s group, and there's something they do with the trapped ions, thinking about, ‘Can that trick work here?’, that's something that's really complementary,” agrees NIST’s Teufel. Physicists such as those in the NIST ion storage group and Monroe’s group at JQI are making qubits with ions. But if company researchers really can build a 1000-qubit computer in the next 2 years, that ultimate goal will sound far less fantastical than it does now. Credit: A gold-on-alumina trap inside a case that protects against electrical interference. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites. It's more of a universal quantum language.”. Google has its own plan to build a million-qubit quantum computer within 10 years, as Hartmut Neven, who leads Google’s quantum computing effort, explained in an April interview, although he declined to reveal a specific timeline for advances. IBM has reported building and testing a 50-qubit system, based on superconducting components. In chemistry, annealing is a process in which a material such as a glass is first heated and then cooled slowly in order to achieve a desirable property such as greater toughness. At around the 50-qubit mark, quantum computers may be able to start doing things that ordinary computers can’t. Researchers then encode the problem they wish to solve in the form of magnetic pulses, which “heat” the qubits to higher-energy states. “I think it's a question of how the technology will develop over the next 20 or 30 years. But the company decided to reveal its plans so that its clients and collaborators would know what to expect. Even though researchers are pursuing different ways to make quantum computing technologies, they regularly exchange ideas. Official websites use .gov Integer factorization, which underpins the security of public key cryptographic systems, is believed to be computationally infeasible with an ordinary computer for large integers if they are the product of few prime numbers (e.g., products of two 300-digit primes). Blakestad/NIST That’s exactly what will be required to start to make a full-fledged quantum computer with thousands of logical qubits. Today, IBM made its aspirations more concrete by publicly announcing a “road map” for the development of its quantum computers, including the ambitious goal of building one containing 1000 qubits by 2023. Today, IBM made its aspirations more concrete by publicly announcing a “road map” for the development of its quantum computers, including the ambitious goal of … M.S. Also being created by Konrad Lehnert and his group at JILA, the superconductor-based qubits and quantum drums are made with existing microfabrication technology, could potentially perform operations very quickly, and could be relatively easy to mass-produce and scale up into many-qubit systems. Dario Gil, IBM’s director of research, says he is confident his team can keep to the schedule. “We didn’t know the specific milestones and numbers that they’ve announced,” she says. The plan includes building intermediate-size machines of 127 and 433 qubits in 2021 and 2022, respectively, and envisions following up with a million-qubit machine at some unspecified date. In Japan, researchers have built a system using photons in optical fiber to create what they call a Quantum Neural Network, intended as a specialized quantum computer good at tackling tasks such as the traveling salesman problem. The chip combines a quantum bit (pink) for storing quantum information, a quantum bus (green) for transporting information, and a switch (purple) that tunes interactions between the other two components. Such a machine would still be 1000 times too small to fulfill quantum computing’s full potential—such as breaking current internet encryption schemes—but it would big enough to spot and correct the myriad errors that ordinarily plague the finicky quantum bits. The qubits then “cool” towards a lower-energy state that represents a solution to the problem. But current machines contain just a few dozen quantum bits, or qubits, too few to do anything dazzling. This photo was taken in the 1990s at the NIST-Boulder laboratories. However, Boisvert points out, all existing experimental quantum computer designs lack error correction. Google’s John Martinis (a former NIST researcher) has announced that the company aims to soon demonstrate a 49-qubit quantum computer, using superconducting components. But the slightest interaction with the environment tends to distort those delicate two-ways-at-once states, so researchers have developed error-correction protocols to spread information ordinarily encoded in a single physical qubit to many of them in a way that the state of that “logical qubit” can be maintained indefinitely. One company joining those efforts is Q-CTRL, which develops software to optimize the control and performance of the individual qubits. They have created a “racetrack” trap for capturing and storing multiple ions that could be used for processing quantum information. “To scale these up to be able to do large-scale computations—such as factoring—will require error correction, which will require a much larger number of physical qubits and a significantly larger overhead.” IBM is already preparing a jumbo liquid-helium refrigerator, or cryostat, to hold a quantum computer with 1 million qubits. And an entangled quantum system gets more and more fragile as you try to add qubits to it. Researchers are still trying to determine under what set of conditions it may be more powerful than a classical computer. Secure .gov websites use HTTPS At least in terms of public relations, IBM has been playing catch-up to Google, which 1 year ago grabbed headlines when the company announced its researchers had used their 53-qubit quantum computer to solve a particular abstract problem that they claimed would overwhelm any conventional computer—reaching a milestone known as quantum supremacy.