Australian manufacturer of quantum computers, Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC)has developed the world’s first integrated circuit manufactured on an atomic scale.
The circuit, which acts like an analog quantum processor, comes less than a decade after SQC’s 2012 statement that it manufactured the world’s first single-atom transistor, and was completed two years ahead of schedule.
Founder Michelle Simmons said her team used the processor to accurately model the quantum states of a small, organic polyacetylene molecule — definitively proving the validity of the company’s technology for modeling quantum systems.
“This is a major breakthrough. Today’s classical computers struggle to simulate even relatively small molecules because of the large number of possible interactions between atoms,” she said.
“The development of SQC’s atomic circuit technology enables the company and its customers to build quantum models for a range of new materials, be it pharmaceuticals, battery materials or catalysts. It will not be long before we can start to realize new materials that did not exist before.”
The milestone of the atomic-scale integrated circuit is the culmination of 20 years of research led by Simmons. It presents a challenge first postulated by the pioneering theoretical physicist Professor Richard Feynman in his famous 1959 lecture Lots of space at the bottom.
The physicist argued that to understand how nature works, you must be able to control matter on the same length scales that matter is made up of — that is, on the length scale of atoms. Six decades later, the SQC team proved this conjecture and built an integrated circuit using atomic components in silicon.
The breakthrough is a major technical milestone in the company’s goal to deliver an error-corrected processor, which then enables the scaling of quantum computing hardware.
Simmons said the Sydney startup’s achievement also validates its atomic manufacturing capabilities by integrating multiple atomic components into a single device.
“The exquisite precision of the device confirms SQC’s engineering strategy to focus on quality rather than quantity,” she said.
“We have created an extremely precise manufacturing technology that opens the door to a whole new world. It’s a huge step toward building a commercial quantum computer,” Simmons says.
Silicon Quantum Computing Chairman Stephen Menzies was proud of the company’s ability to achieve milestones as it looks to raise $130 million in a Series A funding round to support the company’s technical development, operations and strategic activities in the coming years. finance for six years.
“It is a triumph to reach such a milestone two years ahead of schedule,” he said.
“SQC’s engineers are now scaling up the technology to address more industrially relevant molecules and as a company we look forward to developing targeted industry partnerships to meet their simulation needs.”
Launched in May 2017, SQC operates out of UNSW labs. Five years ago, it raised $83 million in a seed round from UNSW Sydney, Telstra, CBA and Australian and NSW governments.
In addition to the core processor technology, SQC is developing a ‘full-stack’ quantum computer to ensure it can deliver a usable and manufacturable quantum device and is now scaling up its quantum hardware to handle heavy computational tasks that cannot be performed by traditional computers.