IBM has taken a big step toward practical, scalable quantum computing. How could their design be the circuitry of computing’s future?
Because of this, the construction of quantum computers is limited. Despite being able to outperform the computational power of a hundred classic computers, developers and architects of quantum systems have to balance extreme environmental requirements.
The D-Wave system, for example, has to supercool its quantum processor down to near absolute zero. This requires a refrigeration system several times the size of the quantum computer itself.Template-Assisted-Selective-Epitaxy or TASE could lower the operating temperature of quantum computers.Click To Tweet
If someone designed a room temperature quantum computer, the development could be considered a major breakthrough in the field.
They would be going a long way toward making a scalable quantum computer that can be sold to the masses. There could be a lot of benefits from such widespread processing power–but we’ll get back to that later.
First, let’s go over some good news. IBM has taken us a step closer to scalability with something they are calling the TASE (Template-Assisted-Selective-Epitaxy) technique.
Template-Assisted-Selective-Epitaxy: What IBM did
Before I go into the details of what the TASE system does, let’s talk about the ridiculous level of organization researchers have to do in order to make all this magic happen.
The big achievement, and it is huge (if actually very, very small in nature), is that scientists have sent a single electron through a specifically constructed nanowire that was integrated onto some silicon.
Think of it as the smallest trick-shot ever on a specially made and infinitesimally small pool table.
At its most basic, Template-Assisted-Selective-Epitaxy is a way to link multiple nanowires to transfer quantum information without melting down, and since we have proof that the nanowires work, TASE might be the way to align those wires and make ‘quantum circuitry’ that offers a lot more computational space.
At least, that’s Dr. Johannes Gooth‘s word on the matter.
It’s a significant step toward scalable quantum computing, but for most of us it’s a small footnote. Let’s talk a bit about why we should care about the oncoming storm that is quantum computing.
Why TASE Matters to us
Many of the technologies that we want from the future can’t happen yet because of multifaceted limitations. Sometimes it’s the means, sometimes it’s the regulations.
The best example of that that I can think of is the elusive self-driving car, which is all the buzz amongst inventors and car companies alike and still hasn’t been cracked.
First, you need millions of miles of tests to dispell all safety related doubts (which may have just been made feasible by the University of Michigan).
You need an incredibly advanced AI in order to make all the judgments that human beings make when behind the wheel of a vehicle. Modern AI software is currently limited by the amount of data storage we can use despite having cloud storage technology.
I wrote an article on this a little while back, but it’s relevant now because quantum computing could vastly improve our capacity for and ability to store data.
And self-driving cars? That’s just a start.
How about a quantum computer that can conduct virtual physics experiments that can model the kinds of things that happen in the Large Hadron Collider without actually having to build the thing (not that we don’t love the LHC, mind you).
Something like that could lead us to computers like those you see on Star Trek, where complex simulations can be done at whim, with all of the necessary variables falling effortlessly into place.
With all that speed and memory, quantum computers will be able to do astronomical levels of data crunching, meaning they will be just as adept at counting the grains of sand in a sandbox as they are tracking the movement of each individual grain.
This can be a scary note for many because that means that current encryption methods would be child’s play to a quantum computer, but rest assured that such a vulnerability would be difficult to exploit before various defenses are created.
So, in summation, quantum computing really is the future, and kudos to IBM for discovering another step that could bring it to the public.
As always, we’ll be on the lookout for that next step here at Edgy Labs. Template-Assisted-Selective-Epitaxy could give way to even bigger advances in quantum computing, so be sure to check back to monitor the progress toward scalable quantum computers.