Path to Million Qubit Quantum Computers Using Atoms and Lasers

Atom Computing is building quantum computers using individually controlled atoms.

As one of the world’s leading researchers in atomic clocks and neutral atoms, Benjamin Bloom (co-founder of Atom Computing) built the world’s fastest atomic clock, and it is considered the most precise and accurate measurement ever performed.

Ben has shown that neutral atoms could be more scalable, and could build a stable solution to create and maintain controlled quantum states. He used his expertise to lead efforts at Intel on their 10nm semiconductor chip, and then to lead research and development of the first cloud-accessible quantum computer at Rigetti.

He was joined by co-founder and lead scientist Jonathan King (Ph.D., ChemE, 2012) to create Atom Computing to build truly scalable quantum computers. King earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 2012.

The Atom Computing Team’s research suggests the most pragmatic and tractable approach to building and scaling a quantum computer to eventually millions of qubits.

A system designed around wireless qubits, with long coherent times, and significant individual control at scale, could meaningfully scale to over a million qubits, and deliver on the real promise of an error-corrected quantum system.

51 Rubidium atoms were arranged in single file, using a laser split into 51 beams. Six more laser beams per atom—slow the atoms until they are nearly motionless. Then, with yet another set of lasers causes the atoms to interact with each other, and perform calculations.

It’s a quantum computer, which manipulates “qubits” that can encode zeroes and ones simultaneously in what’s called a superposition state. If scaled up, it might vastly outperform conventional computers at certain tasks. But in the world of quantum computing, Levine’s device is somewhat unusual. In the race to build a practical quantum device, investment has largely gone to qubits that can be built on silicon, such as tiny circuits of superconducting wire and small semiconductors structures known as quantum dots. Now, two recent studies have demonstrated the promise of the qubits Levine works with: neutral atoms. In one study, a group including Levine showed a quantum logic gate made of two neutral atoms could work with far fewer errors than ever before. And in another, researchers built 3D structures of carefully arranged atoms, showing that more qubits can be packed into a small space by taking advantage of the third dimension.