Sampling of Quantum Computing; French Perspective
Computers: Promises of the Quantum Dawn
Excerpts and salient points ~
+ In this race for the greatest number of qubits and the creation of a quantum computer, two systems, currently neck and neck, offer the most interesting prospects. The first involves trapped ions. Developed in the early 1990s, these are atoms—especially calcium—that have had one or more electrons removed, and that are then trapped in a vacuum using lasers. They hold the record for coherence time, which has reached multiple minutes in certain devices. The disadvantage is that they are slow to manipulate, which slows down calculations. Another drawback is that “trapping techniques are relatively complicated to implement, such that it is difficult to see how it’s possible to increase size and reach 1000 qubits,” notes Tanzilli. Some have already imagined solutions for doing so, although this remains a major challenge.
Long a simple physicist’s idea, the quantum computer, which promises to revolutionise computing, is increasingly becoming a tangible reality. The first machines able to surpass traditional computers should appear in a few years.
+ The fields of chemistry and materials science should be the first to benefit. There are predictions that with machines of a hundred qubits, the synthesis of new molecules or the development of materials with unprecedented properties will be largely accelerated. How? By using quantum computers for simulation rather than calculation. The idea, which was originally suggested by Richard Feynman, is to imitate complex physical systems (molecules, materials, etc.) with the help of simpler artificial quantum systems, namely qubits. By varying parameters at will (distance of atoms, force of interactions…), which are not adjustable in real systems, we can model their dynamics and thereby understand them better.
+ It is not by chance that the field of quantum algorithmics has never been as active as it is today. A single example: in 2017, Kerenidis presented a machine learning algorithm that can, in theory, recommend films, books, or matches that are exponentially more effective than using current methods. Who knows when an actual quantum computer will be created, and whether it will indeed become a reality, but along the path toward its creation, the prospects for the average person are extremely tantalizing.
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