New York-based quantum computing startup SEEQC announced Wednesday that it has developed a digital chip that can operate at temperatures colder than space, allowing it to be used with quantum processors, which are often found in cryogenic chambers .
Quantum computers, based on quantum physics, have the potential to one day perform some calculations millions of times faster than today’s most powerful supercomputers.
One challenge is that quantum processors with quantum bits or qubits often have to be stored at very cold temperatures close to zero Kelvin or -273.15 degrees Celsius. Classic computers, on the other hand, work at more moderate temperatures.
But the two must be paired, as information must be measured in waveform by the quantum processors and digitized into ones and zeros for classical computers used to control and access the qubits.
Today, wires connect the quantum processor in the freezing chamber to classic room-temperature computers, but the temperature change can slow speeds and cause other problems. SEEQC also built its quantum computer in this way and is now trying to modify it with its new chips.
“If you’re trying to build a data center, if that’s your goal, then it’s not enough to take these kinds of early prototype designs and try to brutally scale them,” says John Levy, co-founder and CEO of SEEQC , Reuters said.
The first chip presented on Wednesday sits directly under the quantum processor and controls the qubits and reads the results.
At least two other chips, still in development, are located in a slightly warmer part of the cryochamber. These could process information that is required for quantum computing.
The technology could make it easier to build more powerful quantum computers because each cryochamber could support a larger number of qubits, Levy said. Today’s superconducting quantum computers have hundreds of qubits, but some estimate that thousands or even millions could be needed to develop a quantum computer running useful algorithms.
SEEQC’s digital chips are manufactured at SEEQC’s Elmsford manufacturing facility using silicon wafers, but do not use transistors, Levy said.
Founded in 2018, SEEQC has raised a total of $30 million from investors including Mercks M Ventures and LG Tech Ventures.