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Researchers from the University of Sussex and tech company Universal Quantum have made a considerable step towards developing powerful quantum computers, the university said in a press release.

The researchers have demonstrated, unprecedentedly, that quantum bits (qubits, meaning basic units of quantum information) can directly transfer between quantum computer microchips. This breakthrough, achieved with record-breaking speed and accuracy, resolves a major challenge in building quantum computers large and powerful enough to tackle complex problems. They can help, for instance, in facing important issues in nearly every industry, ranging from aeronautics to the financial sector.

Today, quantum computers operate on the 100-qubit scale. Experts anticipate millions of qubits are required to solve important problems that are unprocessable today’s most powerful supercomputers. Therefore, currently, the race to develop quantum computers is global.

In the research paper, published in Nature Communications, the scientists demonstrated the use of a new technique, ‘UQ Connect’. This technique uses electric field links to enable qubits to move from one quantum computing microchip module to another, with unparalleled speed and precision. This allows chips to slot together to make a more powerful quantum computer.

Moreover, the reserach team managed to transport the qubits with a 99.999993 percent success rate and a 2424/s connection rate. Both these numbers are world records and orders of magnitude better than previous solutions.

A look to the future

“The team has demonstrated fast and coherent ion transfer using quantum matter links. This experiment validates the unique architecture that Universal Quantum has been developing – providing an exciting route towards truly large-scale quantum computing.” said University of Sussex Research Fellow Dr. Mariam Akhtar, who led the project.

Winfried Hensinger, Professor of Quantum Technologies at UoS and Co-founder at Universal Quantum, commented: “As quantum computers grow, we will eventually be constrained by the size of the microchip, which limits the number of qubits such a chip can accommodate. As such, we knew a modular approach was key to make quantum computers powerful enough to solve step-changing industry problems. In demonstrating that we can connect two quantum computing chips […] and, crucially, that it works so well, we unlock the potential to scale-up by connecting hundreds or even thousands of quantum computing microchips.”

While linking the modules, the scientists also verified that the ‘strange’ quantum nature of the qubit remains untouched during transport. This means, for example, that the qubit can be both 0 and 1 at the same time.

Dr Sebastian Weidt, CEO of Universal Quantum, and Senior Lecturer in Quantum Technologies at Sussex, said: “These exciting results show the remarkable potential of Universal Quantum’s quantum computers to become powerful enough to unlock the many lifechanging applications of quantum computing.”

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