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NIST suppresses errors in quantum computers

Posted: 24 Apr 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:quantum computers  qubit  magnetic field  error suppression 

NIST applied its error suppressing pulses using a microwave photon at 124 GHz. The qubits were stored in an array of 1,000 supercooled beryllium ions, each representing a single qubit trapped by an electric and magnetic field. Solid-state versions of such arrays could act as the memory banks in future quantum computers. NIST's demonstration showed that the echoes from appropriately timed error suppression pulses can keep the spins of all 1,000 qubits sufficiently aligned to prevent excessive errors.

"Error correction is vitally important for a gate-level approach to quantum computers; they won't work at all without it," said Geordie Rose, founder and CEO of D-Wave Systems Inc. (Vancouver, B.C.), a pioneering quantum computer company.

Because of the error-prone nature of general-purpose, gate-level quantum computer architectures, D-Wave instead chose an adiabatic model, which sacrifices generality for robustness. D-Wave's quantum computer can only solve discrete optimisation of multi-variable problems. If NIST's spin-echo error suppression method works as advertised, however, D-Wave claims it may switch back to the general-purpose, gate-level approach.

"Our business model takes an agnostic approach to quantum computing technologies," said Rose. "We are very much interested in any technique that advances that work, and NIST has certainly proven itself to be one of the leaders."

-R. Colin Johnson
EE Times

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