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How Do You Build a Large-Scale Quantum Computer?


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Ion qubits (shown as a crystal within trap blades) are combined in a modular design.

Any set of ion modules (small cubes on left) can be connected using photonic interconnects. A switch, depicted as large cube on right, contains microelectromechanical mirrors to change connections between any arbitrary pair of modules.

Credit: E.Edwards/JQI

Aiming to address the challenge of physically implementing a full-scale universal quantum computer, Joint Quantum Institute researchers have proposed a modular architecture that offers scalability.

The design features individual qubit modules that each consist of a small crystal of about 10-100 ions trapped by electromagnetic fields. Qubits from the ion trap modules are then networked through a second layer of optical fiber photonic interconnects, and the quantum state of the ion qubits is tied to that of the photons emitted by the ions. Fibers are directed to a reconfigurable switch to allow any set of modules to be connected. The switch system uses micro-electromechanical mirrors to send light into various fiber ports, enabling entanglement between arbitrary modules and the distribution of quantum information on demand.

The architecture's defining aspect is that it connects several identical modules composed of smaller registers in a scalable manner. "This is the only way to imagine scaling to larger quantum systems, by building them in smaller standard units and hooking them together," says the Joint Quantum Institute's Christopher Monroe.

From Joint Quantum Institute
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Abstracts Copyright © 2014 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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