Integrated circuits could make quantum computers scalable

Researchers at TU Delft and University of New South Wales have designed a scalable quantum computing architecture based on widely used complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) manufacturing techniques. The approach encodes information in the spins of individual electrons confined in quantum dots, and could allow the development of large-scale computers incorporating millions of qubits.

Computing milestone

For now, the state of the art in quantum computing is represented by devices with a few dozen qubits: as of November 2017, the 50-qubit, superconductor-based IBM Q is the record holder. Systems of this size are about as complex as can be simulated using a classical computer, so the field has reached an important milestone. But although quantum computers at this scale do have their uses, individual devices will need to harness hundreds, thousands, or even millions of qubits before they really come into their own.

No technology epitomizes the concept of scalability like silicon-based integrated circuits. So reliably and profoundly has this field advanced over the last half-century, that Moore’s Law – essentially just an observation about the regularity of increases in available computing power – has become firmly established in consumer culture. No wonder then that researchers are hoping that the same manufacturing process that has underpinned this growth for so long might do the same for quantum computers.

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