Nextbigfuture Interviews Honeywell on Scaling Trapped Ion Quantum Computers

Nextbigfuture interviewed Tony Uttley, President of Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Brian Neyenhuis, Commercial Operations Leader, Honeywell Quantum Solutions. Honeywell has a 10 fully connected qubit system with a proven quantum volume of 128. This is the highest quantum performance for any publicly known quantum computer.

In the Nextbigfuture interview, Tony Uttley and Brian Neyenhuis described work and results in the lab which show that there is substance and technological results for the entire H1 to H5 roadmap. They have already built versions of the H2 racetrack device. Honeywell has experimentally proven the main technologies and capabilities needed for the H3, H4 and H5 devices. This work gives them confidence that their quantum roadmap will be successful over the next 5-10 years.

In the Nextbigfuture interview, Tony indicated that the Honeywell qubits are separated by a few microns. There are few microns sized zones where the radio frequency devices hold or precisely move the ions. The Ytterbium ions can be held for a day or more. Lasers appear to have visible light wavelengths. Greenlight has wavelengths in the 520-560 nanometer range.

The image of the current linear series of traps show the squares which generate the radio frequencies and magnetic fields.

The ions move and are held above the RF and magnetic traps.

There are many lasers but the lasers perform different functions. One laser converts the Ytterbium atom into an ion. Other lasers perform various quantum functions such as entangling or merging two qubits.

Honeywell (NYSE: HON) today announced a breakthrough in the early era of quantum computing with the introduction of its next-generation quantum computer, the System Model H1. The H1 generation of computer features Honeywell’s differentiated quantum charge-coupled device 1 (QCCD) trapped-ion technology and is strategically designed to be rapidly upgraded throughout its lifetime.

The newest generation quantum computer from Honeywell initially offers 10 fully-connected qubits, a proven quantum volume of 128 (the highest measured in the industry) and unique features such as mid-circuit measurement and qubit reuse, which were made possible through Honeywell’s heritage of precision controls expertise. This announcement further affirms the company’s commitment to rapidly increase quantum volume by at least an order of magnitude annually for the next five years. 

System Model H1 is directly accessible to enterprises via a cloud application programming interface (API), as well as through Microsoft Azure Quantum, and alongside channel partners including Zapata Computing and Cambridge Quantum Computing. Access to System Model H1 is through a subscription that provides customers access to Honeywell’s most technologically advanced quantum computer on the market.

In the interview and the press release Tony said the following:
“Honeywell’s aggressive quantum computing roadmap reflects our commitment to achieving commercial scale for our quantum business. Our subscription-based model provides enterprise customers with access to Honeywell’s most advanced system available,” said Tony Uttley, President of Honeywell Quantum Solutions.“Honeywell’s unique methodology enables us to systematically and continuously ‘upgrade’ the H1 generation of systems through increased qubit count, even higher fidelities and unique feature modifications.”

Uttley offered an analogy: “Imagine if the streaming service to which you subscribed became twice as good in a few weeks, 10 times as good in a few months and thousands of times better in a few quarters,” he said.
In addition to the announced H1 computer, Honeywell confirmed it has already begun integration activities for its future System Model H2 generation as well as development activities in support of its H3 generation and beyond.

In the interview, Tony indicated that the H2 racetrack device is already built and is working beside the H1 device in the lab. Honeywell has also experimentally proven the multi-layer tab technology needed for the H2 device. Honeywell has demonstrated the junction transport capability to move ions around corners and around the grid architectures of the H3, H4 and H5 devices. Honeywell has also worked out the splitting of the lasers to generate the many beams needed for scaled devices.

There are no technical roadblocks to scaling to error-corrected H5 devices. Tony also indicated that only a few hundred physical qubits will be needed for each error-corrected qubit in the H5 system. Tony told Nextbigfuture that Honeywell did not want to promise scaling or goals that they will not definitely be able to deliver. However, the work and results they have achieved in the lab make them very confident that they will be able to scale to very large error-corrected quantum systems.

Trapped ion is also being worked on by the IonQ startup. IonQ has already shown that hundreds of ions (qubits) can be loaded into their trap system and that there is no physical limitations on entanglement times.

Honeywell has shown entanglement times that are 100,000 times greater than times in the superconducting qubit competition.

Trapped ion can work at room temperature but Honeywell chooses to work at about 4 to 10 degrees kelvin for enhanced performance and greater reliability.

Business Customers and Traction for the Honeywell System

Honeywell’s novel trapped-ion qubits can be uniformly generated with errors better understood compared with alternative qubit technologies that do not use individual atoms. These high-performance operations require deep experience across multiple disciplines, including atomic physics, optics, cryogenics, lasers, magnetics, ultra-high vacuum, and precision control systems– areas where Honeywell has a long heritage of experience and expertise.

“The introduction of the System Model H1 is a significant milestone in shaping and accelerating the development of quantum computing and bringing its power to enterprises,” added Uttley. “We’ve seen demand skyrocket in 2020 and are thrilled to partner with customers seeking to solve real business problems via quantum computing.”

Honeywell is also disclosing the latest enterprise companies with access to its quantum computer. That list includes DHL and Merck as well as a collaboration with Accenture. These companies demonstrate the wide range of quantum computing use cases, which include pharmaceuticals and logistics as well as Honeywell’s own internal applications in its Aerospace and Performance Materials and Technologies businesses. Honeywell’s differentiated technology, exemplified by the high-fidelity quantum operations and fully connected qubits with mid-circuit measurement and qubit reuse, enables customers to push the frontier of quantum computing applications.

“We believe that addressing tomorrow’s global logistics challenges requires an unwavering commitment to advancing some of today’s most promising technologies, and that includes Quantum Computing. By attempting to solve computationally complex problems with Honeywell, we have taken another step towards exploring improving operational efficiencies, and leveraging quantum computing’s potential to innovate within the logistics industry”, – said Justin Baird, head of innovation Asia Pacific DHL customer solutions & innovation.

Kam Chana, director, computational platforms at Merck said, “It was illuminating to experience the properties of real quantum hardware first-hand through Zapata’s Orquestra platform. Seeing one of Orquestra’s native QML algorithms run on Honeywell’s H1 system was an exciting moment for Merck in our journey to quantum readiness. The combination of Orquestra’s programming environment with quantum hardware opens up quantum computing widely to our data scientists and brings new approaches for development of AI/ML based models.”

Honeywell is also collaborating with Accenture on new use cases for Honeywell’s quantum technology.  “At Accenture, we’re excited to be working with our peers and clients to unlock new business value through quantum computing,” said Marc Carrel-Billiard, senior managing director and technology innovation lead at Accenture. “Our ongoing collaboration in Honeywell in this rapidly-developing space has already yielded new insights, and we look forward to advancing our work together with the System Model H1.”

In addition, JPMorgan Chase has continued their collaboration with the Honeywell team. “JPMorgan Chase is pleased to continue innovating alongside Honeywell and their new System Model H1 quantum computer,” says Dr. Marco Pistoia, head of research and engineering, JPMorgan Chase. Honeywell currently has a cross-disciplinary team of more than 150 scientists, engineers, software developers and functional professionals dedicated to advancing quantum computing and addressing real enterprise problems across industries.

Honeywell trapped ion approach and roadmap looks solid to Nextbigfuture. Having scaled error-corrected quantum computers in every data center means that the power of quantum systems to provide better solutions for supply chain optimization, artificial intelligence, machine learnings and nanoscale simulations for drug discovery and other applications will make quantum computing practical and useful.

SOURCES- Honeywell Quantum Systems, Interview with Tony Uttley
Written By Brian Wang,