It’s hard to keep up with all the news coming out of the quantum computing industry these days. The quantum ecosystem is growing in all directions from academic to corporate boardrooms and producing new hardware, software and partnerships.
Denis Mandich, CTO of quantum entropy startup Qrypt, said that the race to make qubits at scale is a winner-take-all competition.
“If you make that scalable quantum computer, your advantage is so great that you’ll leave everyone else in the dust,” he said. “That’s why so much money is pouring into this sector and why companies are hiring at an unbelievable pace.”
Qrypt is a member of the Quantum Consortium that tracks open positions among member organizations including corporations, academic institutions, national labs and government agencies. There are more than 600 listings in the QED-C directory as of early April.
“It’s a knife fight to get people at this point,” he said.
Mandich said every country has outspent the U.S. when it comes to quantum investments because leaders recognize that this is a national race as well.
“Whoever is there first has immediate business interest because people will pay for this tomorrow if it scales,” he said.
This roundup of quantum news ranging from advancements in hardware, benchmarking work or strategic investments shows why there are so many jobs and why it’s a challenge to fill them.
Accenture Ventures invests in quantum chemistry
The Good Chemistry Company got a vote of confidence via a strategic investment from Accenture Ventures, the consulting company’s corporate venture capital arm. The company’s QEMIST Cloud is an integrated platform designed for developers. Computational chemistry developers can use the platform to build chemical simulation applications and workflows with emerging algorithms in quantum chemistry, machine learning and quantum computing.
Carl Dukatz, Accenture’s global quantum computing lead, said in a press release that a new class of scalable cloud-based technology is emerging to support the next generation of chemistry, material science and structural design. Accenture Ventures did not disclose the terms of the investment.
Pasqal partners with Siemens and Microsoft
Siemens Digital Industries Software is funding a research project with Pasqal to advance quantum computational multi-physics simulation. The company will use its proprietary quantum methods to solve complex nonlinear differential equations and enhance Siemens’ product design and testing software. Pasqal specializes in neutral atom-based quantum computing.
Georges-Olivier Reymond, CEO and founder of Pasqal, said the work will focus on creating more accurate digital twins for automotive, electronics, energy and aerospace customers. Pasqal’s quantum technology controls atoms with an equal number of electrons and protons with optical “tweezers” and laser light to engineer full-stack processors with high scalability and long coherence times, according to the company. The company’s software agnostic processing units operate at room temperature with lower energy.
In March, the French company announced a partnership with Microsoft to offer access to its technology via Azure Quantum. Dr. Krysta Svore, a distinguished engineer and VP of quantum software at Microsoft, said Pasqal’s services will provide Azure Quantum users with new computational possibilities. The Pasqal system will be available later this year.
Zapata and IonQ win DARPA award
Zapata and IonQ announced at the end of March a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency multi-million dollar award for quantum benchmarking. The funds will support the creation of software tools to make hardware-specific resource estimates for quantum computers. The collaboration includes teams from:
- Aalto University, Finland
- University of Technology Sydney
- University of Texas at Dallas
- Zapata Computing
Yudong Cao, CTO and founder of Zapata Computing, said the program will focus on hardware-specific resource estimation.
“The key priority is building and integrating software tools across a broad range of the quantum stack from abstract program description, compiler toolchains, error correction and mitigation, to low-level physical control of quantum hardware systems,” Cao said. “For Zapata specifically, this program will also be an opportunity to test and develop our Orquestra platform for large-scale numerical experiments needed for creating the quantum benchmarks.”
The research team started work in March and expects the project to last three years.
NVIDIA announces quantum progress
At the GTC conference in March, NVIDIA shared an update on its quantum work. The company’s cuQuantum is now in general release, while its cuQuantum DGX Appliance is in beta. CEO Jensen Huang announced a new quantum compiler: nvq++, which targets the Quantum Intermediate Representation, a specification of a low-level machine language that quantum and classical computers can use to communicate. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be among the first to use this software.
These projects position NVIDIA strategically at classical and quantum inflection points, where classical advantage gives way to quantum value, according to Gartner Analyst Chirag Dekate.
Maybell Quantum exits stealth mode
Maybell Quantum exited stealth mode in March with the Icebox, a new design for quantum hardware. The founders have shrunk the cooling system required to run the specialized hardware down the size of a kitchen refrigerator. The Colorado company has more than a dozen patent-pending innovations, including Flexlines. These quantum wires offer “industry-leading performance and density, while transmitting a fraction of the heat and vibration of traditional cabling,” according to the company. There are 4,500 of these wires in a single Icebox, which represents three items more qubits in one-tenth of the space, said Maybell’s CTO Dr. Kyle Thompson.
New research center in Melbourne
Quantum Brilliance is planning a joint research and development hub with La Trobe University and RMIT University to develop high-performance, scalable diamond-based quantum microprocessors. The Research Hub for Diamond Quantum Materials will develop fabrication techniques.
Dr. Marcus Doherty is the co-founder and chief scientific officer of Quantum Brilliance, the head of the Diamond Quantum Science and Technology Laboratory at the Australian National University and the leader of the Australian Army’s quantum technology roadmap.
Professor Chris Pakes, acting deputy vice chancellor for research and industry engagement at La Trobe University, said the partnership will use both universities’ expertise in diamond growth, surface imaging and engineering, and combine it with Quantum Brilliance’s industry experience and manufacturing capabilities. Quantum Brilliance uses impurities within synthetic diamonds, and a carbon atom is swapped out for a nitrogen atom in the lattice of the crystal, to generate qubits.
Q-CTRL opens research institute
Q-CTRL is also supporting expanded quantum research through a partnership with The Paul Scherrer Institute. Dr. Cornelius Hempel, group lead for ion trap quantum computing at the university, said that efficient and automated tuneup and calibration procedures will be an essential aspect of day-to-day operations as quantum computers get larger and larger.
“Q-CTRL’s hardware agnostic, yet hardware-aware tools will be very valuable in finding optimal control solutions that ensure uniform performance across larger qubit arrays,” he said.
Both teams have experience in quantum computing based on trapped ions, including specialized approaches in error correction. The Institute has an existing research partnership with ETH Zurich via a quantum computing hub that opened in May 2021.
Agnostiq: Benchmarks should be application specific
SaaS startup Agnostiq has submitted a new research paper that recommends a more practical approach to measuring the progress of quantum computing: use benchmarks that match the application in question. Agnostiq conducted its research with a portfolio optimization task to determine whether quantum computers have actually improved over time for specific use cases.
The findings include:
One of the most significant findings was that high-quality portfolios were produced using quantum circuits requiring larger numbers of gates than previously demonstrated. This shows the quality of hardware for performing combinatorial optimization has improved because increasing the number of gates produces more noise, according to the researchers. Other findings include:
The peak solution quality was observed at higher depth (p=4) on 3 qubits on an IonQ trapped ion machine.
An IBM machine with the lowest qubit quality (quantum volume = 8) performed best of all the IBM machines tested.
Variability should be considered with all benchmarking numbers because quantum computers presently give variable results (as high as 29%) depending on the time the machines were accessed.
Agnostiq’s Head of R&D Santosh Kumar Radha said the research was motivated by the fact that every quantum hardware paradigm has its own set of performance metrics and each team is improving across different dimensions.
“We recognized a need to better understand how these non-trivial improvements translate to real-world applications.” Radha said.
Agnostiq develops software tools that make quantum and high performance computing resources more accessible to enterprises and developers. Its open source workflow orchestration platform Covalent is designed to manage and execute tasks on heterogeneous compute resources.