Intel continues to invest in new technology, and one of her latest interests is quantum computing. Last fall presented the first quantum processor on the basis of 17 qubits, and at the last CES, one of the largest manufacturers of semiconductors have demonstrated the chip already with 49 qubits on Board.
Intel, like many others, sees great potential in quantum computers, however, technical problems standing in the way of the implementation of the technology is reduced, unfortunately, not as active as I would like. For example, the operating temperature of the same of the presented chip is -273,2 degrees Celsius. Therefore, engineers are now busy looking for more practical solutions.
Together with scientists from the Dutch Delft University of technology (QuTech) Intel is conducting research with so-called spin qubits. Work on them has been ongoing for several years and is considered very promising. Spin qubits represent electrons embedded in silicon and are not so much in a state of “spin down” (binary 0) or “spin up” (binary 1), but also in the intermediate state, the so-called superposition. The latter, in turn, is the basis of all the foundations of quantum computers. Plus spin qubits is that they are not as sensitive to temperatures, such as superconducting qubits, which requires the conditions under which they will work efficiently close to absolute zero. In turn, the complexity of the cooling system affects the usability of the whole system – they do not allow quantum computers to simultaneously use more than a few hundred or thousands of qubits. To talk about systems based on millions of qubits in General I think there is a beyond in such conditions.
Spin qubits can work at a temperature of 1 Kelvin. Superconducting qubits must be cooled to 20 millikelvin, which is 50 times cooler and much more expensive. In addition, the cooling in this case occurs not only qubits, but also other components of a quantum computer, beyond cooling circuit, which is also not ideal. Spin qubits can move the rest of the components closer to the qubits, which reduces the complexity of the system.
The second advantage of spin qubits is the ability to more dense layouts in the conditions of the previous volume. Commercial systems will surely find benefit from such scaling.
Third advantage of spin qubits is their production process is quite similar to the classical semiconductor transistors, whereby a company engaged in the production of semiconductors, will be able to more quickly adapt this technology.
At the next conference Advancement of Science and Intel QuTech going to show the first quantum computer on the basis of two spin qubits. According to the creators, the system is able to perform simple algorithms. For the production of qubits Intel used its 300-mm substrate (as pictured above), completely cleared of any isotopes. This is only the first test production, but in the coming months, the company promises to increase production and bring it to a few wafers per week. Each such substrate may contain several thousand of arrays of spin qubits.