Error-free due to COVID-19? Empty Campus Getting Least Errors yet in Quantum Computer
Remote quantum computing is the future
+ The COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown have been disastrous for many people. But one research project in my lab has been humming along, taking the best data my team has ever seen. It is an advanced ‘ion trap’ quantum computer, which uses laser beams to control an array of floating atoms.
+ [G]ood quantum hardware is extremely fragile, and the larger the system, the more easily it is perturbed. Some quantum components must be chilled to near absolute zero. Others must be stored in a vacuum more rarefied than that of outer space. It’s really hard to prepare and control precise quantum states, let alone keep them stable for hours. Stray currents, changes in temperature and vibrations can easily destabilize the system.
EURIQA (Error-corrected Universal Reconfigurable Ion trap Quantum Archetype) began operating autonomously in April 2019. The whole system now sits in a 1-metre-cubed box. It’s rarely opened. One researcher visits the lab for 10–20 minutes once a week to reboot the odd computer that has frozen or power supply that has tripped.
+ Since my university went into COVID-19 shutdown in March, EURIQA has kept running — all day, every day. And the data have been excellent because the campus has been a ghost town. The lab’s temperature hasn’t wavered and there’s little vibrational noise in the unoccupied building. It’s one of very few university quantum experiments making real progress right now.
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