Long-term Vision: Ubiquitous Quantum Computing

Over the past eight decades the inventions of electronic computers, microprocessors, satellite and optical-fibre communications and successive incarnations of the Internet have radically transformed our civilisation. All such Information Technologies rely on classical bits: physical systems that have two well-defined states (“0” and “1”) and are used to encode and process information. We are now on the threshold of another revolution that may change our world in even more radical ways. This is coming with the development of new, Quantum Technologies relying on qubits: systems that can exist simultaneously in the “0” and “1” states until they are observed.

Promotional photo of IBM Q System One

The IBM Q System One, unveiled in January 2019, is the first commercial, universal quantum computer. It has only 20 qubits and is made of conventional superconductors, which were understood in the 1960’s. Future quantum computers will use much more advanced materials whose properties we are still in the process of discovering and understanding.

“Quantum Supremacy”, where a quantum computer will for the first time solve a task beyond the reach of classical technologies, is expected to arrive within the next decade. This will bring swift and profound changes to many fields, including cybersecurity, pharmaceutical research and finance, to name a few. We posit, however, that quantum supremacy will only set the stage for a much more profound transformation.

The following stage in the evolution of quantum computing will see it become as ubiquitous as classical computing is today. Making quantum computing ubiquitous will require a shift in the materials used to build quantum computers.

In classical computing the shift was achieved by a move from vacuum tubes and relays to transistors. The latter invention was, in turn, a result of earlier, academic research on semiconductors. We expect a similar evolution for quantum computers: while the IBM Q System One and similar machines are based on conventional superconductors (whose fundamental properties were fully understood in the 1960’s) research into advanced quantum materials will enable novel qubit architectures necessary for the shift from quantum supremacy to ubiquitous quantum computing.

Our ultimate aim is to levergae our expertise in quantum materials to produce today the fundamental advances that enable tomorrow’s quantum technologies.

Core principles: focus, collaboration and support

To achieve our long-term vision, we abide by the following core principles:

  • Focus: we target a number of areas in the Physics of Quantum Materials where we can leverage our worold-leading expertise including unconventional superconductors, topological matter, quantum phase transitions, relativistic quantum effects, low-dimensional quantum systems, strongly correlated electrons and novel forms of quantum coherence.
  • Collaboration: we strive to form meaningful collabroations, extending bridges between institutions, between theory and experiment, and between quantum materials and quantum information.
  • Support: our group provides a supportive environment far all its members, from under-graduate researchers all the way to faculty. We provide an environment where education, training and career development opportunities abound and help is always at hand.