With the quantum bit (or qubits, by its English name), scientists are getting closer to achieving a quantum computer with applications in real life. The latest company to announce a new technological feat in this discipline has been IBM.
IBM today announced a 50-qubit quantum computer prototype, touching the historical record achieved a few weeks ago by a Harvard physicist, Mikhail Lukin. The new prototype of the quantum computer of IBM presents, in addition, a record time of coherence of 90 seconds. The computer is available for a minute and a half to perform very complex calculations and operations.
According to company data, the new IBM quantum computer presents a record coherence time of 90 seconds. The North American multinational has also announced a quantum computer of 20 qubits that will be available in the cloud for customers who use their services at the end of 2017.
The announcement was made in the IEEE Industry Summit on the Future of Computing, which is celebrated in Washington. There IBM has explained the characteristics of its new commercially available quantum computer, a breakthrough in its product portfolio after presenting the 5-qubit version last year, which is also available as a cloud service for its users. At the moment, the company has not specified when it could offer its customers the quantum prototype of 50 qubits.
We have been focused on developing technology with the potential to create value for our customers and the world,” explains Dario Gil, Vice President of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IBM Q Systems in the company’s research division. “We can scale IBM processors to 50-qubits due to tremendous achievements in science and engineering, and these latest milestones show that we are making quantum systems available quickly, which could offer an advantage in addressing issues beyond classic computers – Gil said in a statement released by IBM.
According to data from the technology multinational, more than 60,000 users have carried out about 1.7 million quantum experiments through the platform of IBM Q Systems, which in turn has generated 35 scientific publications. The participants in this platform come mostly from universities (1500 academic institutions), secondary education institutes (300), and private entities (300), many of which access the company’s systems in their teaching programs. The researchers who work at IBM recently released in Nature one of the most interesting applications of quantum computing – it is used to solve certain problems in chemistry and materials science.
This type of computer, based on the principles of quantum physics, will serve us in the future to perform very powerful calculations that will help us, for example, in the design of new materials or in the development of drugs. For these computers to become a reality in computing, researchers must solve one of the main challenges to date beyond the prototypes designed so far. Given that quantum computers are very susceptible to errors that may occur, it is necessary to improve the isolation of these computers because quantum bits, unlike normal bits, are very sensitive, and any interaction you have with the environment can completely modify the calculation.