Quantum computing has been a Holy Grail for researchers ever since Nobel Prize physicist Richard Feynman in 1981 challenged the scientific community to build computers based on quantum mechanics. For decades, the pursuit remained firmly in the theoretical realm. But now IBM scientists believe they’re on the cusp of building systems that will take computing to a whole new level.
On Tues, Feb 28, the IBM team will present major advances in quantum computing device performance at the annual American Physical Society meeting. Using a variety of techniques in the IBM labs, scientists have established three new records for retaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits, or qubits, and reducing errors in elementary computations.These breakthrough results are very close to the minimum requirements for a full-scale quantum computing system as determined by the world-wide research community.
The special properties of qubits will allow quantum computers to work on millions of computations at once, while desktop PCs can typically handle minimal simultaneous computations. For example, a single 250-qubit state contains more bits of information than there are atoms in the universe.
These properties will have wide-spread implications foremost for the field of data encryption and other possible applications such as searching databases of unstructured information, performing a range of optimization tasks and solving previously unsolvable mathematical problems
Furthermore, IBM has chosen to employ superconducting qubits which use established microfabrication techniques developed for silicon technology, providing the potential to one day scale up to and manufacture thousands or millions of qubits.