Scientists have developed an alternative to standard quantum chips, making the production of quantum computers more scalable, affordable, and sustainable.
Researchers from VTT Technical Research Centre announced their revolutionary technology for quantum computers today. Known as SemiQon, the quantum processor chip is made from silicon semiconductors – a stark contrast to current approaches, which are usually modelled making non-standard materials.
Because the new processor chips are much more scalable and easier to manufacture, building quantum processors that will require millions of qubits for fault-tolerant operation could be a thing of the past. Moreover, the chips can function at warmer temperatures, making them more operable and sustainable.
Why is the production of quantum technology so limited?
There are currently less than 100 quantum computers in the world due to scalability issues – they can cost more than €10m to build. However, recent advancements have seen scientists try to find out how quantum computers can be scaled up.
SemiQon’s approach of using relatively inexpensive and easy-to-replicate silicon quantum dot-based technology answers that challenge. Himadri Majumdar, CEO of SemiQon, stated: “Our solution responds to three significant challenges currently slowing down the development of quantum computers globally – their scalability, price, and sustainability.
“Our technology allows us to fabricate quantum processors in a way that supports scaling up manufacturing efficiently while lowering costs. The chips we manufacture also enable the quantum computer to operate at warmer temperatures – thus requiring only a fraction of the energy needed for alternative solutions.”
Current quantum computers excel at optimisation tasks, for example, solving complex logistical issues. In the future, they could accurately model viruses and drugs or develop climate solutions. However, due to the hardware and scalability limitations of currently available solutions, tackling these complex problems is currently impossible.
For quantum computers to become truly useful in this sense, they would need to operate with millions of qubits instead of hundreds – which is what exists today. The amount of qubits is currently limited due to several factors. This is why a more scalable option like SemiQon’s semiconductor-based processors is necessary for bringing the field to its future potential.
“We need to solve the scaling problem to bring more processing power to quantum computers exponentially before we can tackle some of the world’s great challenges. SemiQon’s silicon semiconductor qubit technology is an elegant solution for this,” explained Tauno Vähä-Heikkilä, Vice President of Microelectronics and Quantum Technology at VTT.
Harnessing opportunities in the field of quantum computing
Large-scale manufacturing processes and facilities already exist for silicon because it is used to manufacture microchips that are used in regular computers and other electronics.
This manufacturing capability has been crucial for increased computing power in classical computers, as demonstrated by Moore’s law over many decades. SemiQon currently operates in such a pilot manufacturing facility in Finland.
Jussi Sainiemi, a partner at Voima Ventures, concluded: “Globally, the vast majority of quantum computers have addressed superconducting and other qubit technologies. However, silicon semiconductor qubit technology is still underfunded – despite not being burdened with the scalability challenges that many other technologies face. SemiQon has the perfect team to harness the opportunities in quantum computing.
“The SemiQon team consists of leading experts in silicon semiconductors. As a VTT spinout, the team has worked closely with one of the globally leading research organisations in silicon semiconductor qubit technology. It has the experience and expertise necessary to bring its innovation to market.
“Their technology has the potential to impact the quantum computing field drastically, paving the way to a truly scalable and sustainable chip for quantum computers.”