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For several industries looking to dramatically increase their procedures and capabilities, quantum computing opens up the next frontier of computing power. To achieve this, massively scalable qubit technologies must be created. Additionally, increasing quantities of qubits must be controlled and error levels must be kept as low as possible to prevent the measurement from being affected.

Oxford Ionics and Infineon Technologies have partnered to develop fully integrated Quantum Computing Units (QPUs). Over the next five years, commercial production of QPUs with hundreds of qubits will be made possible, using Electronic Qubit Control (EQC) technology developed by Oxford Ionics combined with Infineon’s Ion Trap technology as well as engineering, manufacturing and assembly capabilities. .

The goal is to translate quantum computing technologies from research labs into useful industrial applications.

quantum technology

One of the big challenges in building quantum computers is finding ways to build quantum processors that can be fully integrated and that can be manufactured in a scalable way. Typically, trapped ion qubits are controlled by individual laser beams delivered by a carefully aligned optical assembly. As the number of qubits increases, this approach quickly becomes untenable. The introduction of future chips will improve the scalability of quantum computers by reaching thousands, or even millions, of qubits, thereby reducing the complexity of the quantum processor – one of the critical obstacles to the viability of quantum computers.

Trapped ion quantum computers implement qubits using single atoms. These atoms of a given material are ionized so that they have a net positive charge and therefore can interact via the Coulomb interaction. This simplifies the realization of 2-qubit gates that can facilitate qubit entanglement. The atoms are arranged in the material in a lattice structure by means of electromagnetic fields which confine the atoms to a specific location. Quantum gates are made using laser radiation which, by interacting with electrons, can change their state.

Chris Ballance (Source: Oxford Ionics; photo (c) John Cairns)

“The main challenge is finding a way to control qubits that can be fully integrated at chip scale,” said Chris Balance, co-founder of Oxford Ionics. “Trapped ion quantum computers work by manipulating the quantum state of atomic ions [the qubits] trapped a few tens of microns above the surface of a chip. Classically, these qubits are controlled using lasers, which are difficult to integrate at chip scale and can lead to intrinsic errors in quantum calculations. Oxford Ionics’ patented electronic qubit control technology is a way to control qubits using electronic currents flowing through structures embedded in the chip, instead of incorporating lasers.

“From Infineon’s perspective, we will be working on integrating certain aspects of control electronics and optics while managing complexity and maintaining our improved trap properties,” said Stephan Schaecher, Director new applications and quantum computing for the Power System & Solutions division. from Infineon Technologies. “Other identified challenges that Infineon is already working on in various projects include enabling faster gates, increased on-chip and off-chip connectivity, and generally better processor architectures.”

Infineon and Oxford Ionics

Stephan Schaecher (Source: Infineon Technologies)

The big challenge in quantum computing is scalability and improved performance. According to Oxford Ionics, the company’s technology can offer both, and working with Infineon and its mature and flexible semiconductor process will accelerate the accessibility of a commercial QPU.

Ballance said the devices produced so far by Infineon and Oxford Ionics are optimized to develop new capabilities and control only a handful of qubits.

“What’s really important about them is that they control qubits using on-chip electronics, rather than lasers, which paves the way for very large-scale integration. In the EQC architecture, Oxford Ionics showed single-qubit gate error rates of less than 0.0001% [1 ppm]and 2-qubit error rate at 0.1% level [99.9% fidelity]. Infineon and Oxford Ionics’ goal is to deliver fully integrated, individual QPUs delivering hundreds of networked qubits in a networked quantum supercomputing cluster within five years.

By the end of 2022, the first Oxford Ionics devices will be accessible in the cloud, giving users access to these quantum computers, with the goal of scaling to hundreds of qubits in less than two years. With quantum network technology from Oxford Ionics, Infineon and Oxford Ionics hope to deliver standalone, fully integrated QPUs with hundreds of qubits within five years. It will be incumbent on Infineon to provide the technological, manufacturing and assembly foundations to enable a massive amount of qubits with low error rates.

Schaecher pointed to one of the most challenging aspects of bringing quantum to industry: “Making quantum computers practical requires experts as well as managers who combine an understanding of physics with know-how. in applications and a business vision. At the moment, these are rare. That’s why we co-founded QUTAC, in order to build the necessary knowledge base together. As a technology provider, it there are still quite a few technical challenges to be solved, and above all, it takes a lot of perseverance.Something comparable was perhaps the development of EUV lithography for the manufacture of semiconductors – a very long and intensive development but now impossible to imagine making chips without it.

According to Schaecher, adjustments and improvements will be made to the process and materials to further improve the performance of the trap properties. “Infineon leverages its unique expertise in developing and manufacturing specialized technologies, such as 3D MEMS structures or integrating exceptional materials into semiconductor fabrication,” he concluded.