Nextbigfuture interviewed the President and COO of Quantinuum, Tony Uttley, and the scientific lead, Dr Henrik Dreyer. They have used the new H2 32 Qubit quantum computer chip to engineer the waveform of a new state of matter. They have engineered something called the Non-Abelian Topological Quantum state. Topological quantum computing has been one of the major quantum computing goals for over twenty years. The reason is that topological qubits are far more resistant to noise and errors.
scientific lead, Dr Henrik Dreyer
President and COO Tony Uttley
Topological quantum qubits could be achieved with new materials OR with an engineered wave function. Quantiniuum-engineered wave functions by using 27 qubits with three additional qubits for control. Think of the many qubits working together like a symphony orchestra playing notes with perfect harmony and synchronization or a choir singing perfectly together.
Novel Uses that Were Impossible Before
This work opens up exciting new fields of research within condensed matter physics, which would have been impossible using a classical computer alone.
This is hugely important. People have been asking what can quantum computers do that regular computers cannot? Regular computers can simulate qubit calculations up to about 50 qubit or so. Classical computers cannot perform superposition or entanglement but they can pretend to be quantum-like using formulas. The new Non-Abelian Topological Quantum state is where quantum qubits are behaving like condensed matter. The Topological quantum become like a new quantum physics exploration devices. They can explore condensed matter behavior in ways no other device can.
Particle accelerators are devices that speed up the particles that make up all matter in the universe and collide them together or into a target. Particle accelerators are devices made to explore physics and matter in energy regimes that are impossible for other devices. The Large Hadron Collider cost some $4.75 billion to build in 2012. Now, it’s reported that the CERN Lab in Switzerland plans to start construction on a new super-collider by 2035 at a cost of $23 billion.
How large would a topological quantum state system need to be to have the value of a large particle accelerator?
How Bad is the Noise Problem in Quantum Computers? Why is Noise Resistant SuperQubits a Big Deal?
I had a Dec, 2022 article about “what is really happening with quantum computers?” which was cited by the IEEE Quantum Journal.
Q-Ctrl had software that could remove the worst-performing qubits in a system to reduce noise by thousands of times. I looked at dozens of presentations and hundreds of slides at the 2022 Q2B (Quantum to Business conference). This is a critical slide that explains a lot about where things are at with quantum computers. You have to spend some time looking at this graph. On the X, horizontal axis, you see the qubit counts. On the Y, vertical axis, you see the probability of getting a successful answer. Below 8 qubits you are look at about 10% chance of success. At 12-13 qubits you are looking at 0.1% chance of success in getting answers. At 15 qubits there is 0.005% chance of success. Reducing noise by thousands of times lets you increase the usable qubits from about 9 to about 17.
You can get answers by controlling noise and you rapidly cannot get answers in a sea of noise.
High Qubit Quality of the Quantinuum H2 Unlocked the Topological Quantum Capability
The differentiating features and precision control of the H2 processor, the topological state (that is essentially a qubit with limited gate capacity) was created in a way where its properties could be precisely controlled in real-time, demonstrating the creation, braiding and annihilation (measurement) of non-Abelian anyons.
It required the error rates and control system precision the H2 processor to “unlock” topological state capability.
There were able to flip the non-Abelian topological qubits. There is more work needed to demonstrate universality and stabilty.
The continued improvement with lower error rates and more precise control (aka gate fidelity) could unlock more capabilities.
Quantinuum is using trapped ions. This means that they are using physical atomically precise particles for qubits.
This version of the H2 has 32 qubits. Quantinuum expects to have a 50 qubit version by 2024. They had the H2 working in November of 2022 and had the non-abelian topological qubit working on Feb 16,2023. Quantinuum chose to gather more data and prove unique capability and gather data to prove they had achieved unique capability before the announcement.
If fully connected and fully usable 50 high fidelity qubits can be achieved this could surpass classical computer quantum simulation capabilties. This is one of the reasons for Quantinuum to take extra care proving out operations at smaller scales. When modules are put together and when systems are scaled it will be far tougher to test larger quantum systems.
Using the H2 Today
Besides the headline breakthrough, the H2 has already been active in experimental studies by a range of organizations and companies, with notable results:
• Global Technology Applied Research at JPMorgan Chase has published a scholarly paper on the quantum optimization algorithm design for portfolio optimization, with numerical results successfully validated on H2 during early access.
• Quantinuum’s machine learning team demonstrated a new heuristic optimization routine that can solve optimization problems with minimal quantum resources.
Innovations in H2
The H2 features initially include 32 fully-connected, high-fidelity qubits and an all-new architecture that advances the System Model H1’s linear design (with a new ion trap whose oval shape resembles a “racetrack”). Quantinuum showcased the H2’s capability by demonstrating a 32-qubit GHZ state (a non-classical state with all 32 qubits globally entangled), the largest on record.
The unique “racetrack” design of the System Model H2 enables all-to-all connectivity between qubits, meaning that every qubit in the H2 can directly be pairwise entangled with any other qubit in the system. Near-term doing so reduces the overall errors in algorithms, and long term opens up additional opportunities for new, more efficient error correcting codes – both critical for continuing to accelerate the capabilities of quantum computing. When combined with the demonstration of controlled non-Abelian anyons, the integrated achievement highlights an important step in topological quantum information storage and processing.
Additionally, the new design is a powerful step towards showing the scaling potential of ion-trap devices. Not only is H2 a demonstration of the scaling power of ion traps in the quantum charge coupled device (QCCD) architecture: showing the ability to simultaneously scale qubit number while maintaining performance, it also contains new technologies that pave the way for further scaling in subsequent generations. Similar to the first-generation systems, H2 is designed to accommodate future upgrades over its product lifecycle, meaning that qubit number and qubit quality will both be improved upon.
The different architectures of the H2 and the planned H3, H4 and H5 are all steps to master simpler enabling capabilities before adding new features. The H3 is a grid system which will add tighter control of the ion qubits. The H4 system will build in control lasers into the processors. This will all lead to large scale quantum processors.
H2 launches with a Quantum Volume 65,536 surpassing the last record announced using H1-1 in February of this year.
The H2 is available now through cloud-based access from Quantinuum and will be available through Microsoft Azure Quantum beginning in June. Additionally, a noise-informed emulator of H2 is made possible through NVIDIA’s cuQuantum SDK of optimized libraries and tools, which help accelerate quantum computing simulation workflows.
Two Paths Forward
Quantinuum is currently unique among many quantum computing companies. They can proceed on two paths for scaling. They can use the H2 and successor chips as just high quality qubits and scale those systems.
They can use the H2 and successor chips non-Abelian super-qubits with inherently noise resistant features.
The high-fidelity qubits and improving fidelity systems will continue to unlock new capabilities such as superior error suppression and new error-correcting architectures.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.