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June 18, 2021

from the University of Innsbruck

Quantum computers developed so far are unique devices that fill entire laboratories. Now physicists from the University of Innsbruck have built the prototype of an industrial-grade ion trap quantum computer. It fits in two 19-inch server racks such as those found in data centers around the world. The compact, self-sufficient device shows how this technology will soon be more accessible.

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In the past three decades, the University of Innsbruck, Austria, laid the foundations for building quantum computers. As part of the EU Flagship Quantum Technologies, researchers at the Institute for Experimental Physics in Innsbruck have now built a demonstrator for a compact ion trap quantum computer. “Our quantum computing experiments usually fill 30 to 50 square meter laboratories,” says Thomas Monz from the University of Innsbruck. “We now wanted to accommodate the technologies developed here in Innsbruck in the smallest of spaces while adhering to industry-standard standards.” The new device is intended to show that quantum computers can soon be used in data centers. “We were able to show that compactness does not have to come at the expense of functionality,” adds Christian Marciniak from the Innsbruck team.

The individual components of the world’s first compact quantum computer had to be significantly reduced in size. The heart of the quantum computer, the ion trap installed in a vacuum chamber, takes up only a fraction of the space previously required. It was made available to the researchers by Alpine Quantum Technologies (AQT), a spin-off from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, who want to build a commercial quantum computer. The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Mechanics in Jena and the laser specialist TOPTICA Photonics in Munich contributed additional components.

The compact quantum computer can be operated independently and will soon be programmable online. A particular challenge was to ensure the stability of the quantum computer. Quantum devices are very sensitive and are protected from external interference in the laboratory with the help of complex measures. Amazingly, the Innsbruck team has succeeded in transferring this quality standard to the compact device and thus guaranteeing safe and uninterrupted operation.

A decisive factor for the industrial use of a quantum computer is, in addition to stability, the number of available quantum bits. In its most recent funding campaign, the federal government set itself the goal of initially building demonstration quantum computers with 24 fully functional qubits. The Innsbruck quantum physicists have already achieved this goal. They were able to individually control and successfully entangle up to 24 ions with the new device. “By next year we want to provide a device with up to 50 individually controllable quantum bits”, Thomas Monz is already looking to the future.

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Ref: https://phys.org