lightspeed laptops from RMIT quantum computing

Lightspeed Laptops Inbound: RMIT’s Quantum Computing Breakthrough

A leap in the realm of quantum computing has been achieved with the creation of a reprogrammable light-based processor, a world-first according to Australia’s RMIT scientists. This breakthrough could usher in a new era of quantum computing and communication with profound implications for various sectors like medicine research and discovery, environmental monitoring and laptops.

Lead researcher, Professor Alberto Peruzzo, who heads the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology node at RMIT, underscored the significance of the team’s accomplishment by highlighting its potential to enhance the efficiency of quantum computations through the minimisation of light losses. He said, “Our design makes the quantum photonic quantum computer more efficient in terms of light losses, which is critical for being able to keep the computation going. .

“If you lose light, you have to restart the computation.”

The team reprogrammed a photonics processor, in a range of experiments and achieved performance that was equivalent to 2,500 individual devices. It did this by applying varying voltages.

The results and analysis will be published in Nature Communications.

“This innovation could lead to a more compact and scalable platform for quantum photonic processors,” Peruzzo said. He didn’t mention laptops but we know that’s what he was thinking.

Delightfully named, Lead author, Yang Yang, who’s an RMIT PhD scholar [so, Dr Yang Yang? – Ed], said the device was “fully controllable,” enabled fast reprogramming with reduced power consumption and replaced the need for making many tailored devices.

He said, “We experimentally demonstrated different physical dynamics on a single device. It’s like having a switch to control how particles behave, which is useful for both understanding the quantum world and creating new quantum technologies.”  

Professor Mirko Lobino, from the University of Trento in Italy, made the innovative photonic device, using a crystal called lithium niobate and Professor Yogesh Joglekar from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis in the United States brought his expertise in condensed matter physics.

Lithium niobate was used because it has unique optical and electro-optic properties which make it ideal for various applications in optics and photonics.

He said, “My group was involved in the fabrication of the device, which was particularly challenging because we had to miniaturise a large number of electrodes on top of the waveguides to achieve this level of reconfigurability,” Lobino said.

Joglekar added, “Programmable photonic processors offer a new route to explore a range of phenomena in these devices that will potentially unlock incredible advancements in technology and science.”

Meanwhile, Peruzzo’s team has also developed a world-first hybrid system that combines machine learning with modelling to program photonic processors and help control the quantum devices. 

Peruzzo said the control of a quantum computer was crucial to ensure the accuracy and efficiency of data processing.

“One of the biggest challenges to the device’s output accuracy is noise, which describes the interference in the quantum environment that impacts how qubits perform,” he said.

Qubits are the basic units of quantum computing.

“There are a whole range of industries that are developing full-scale quantum computing, but they are still fighting against the errors and inefficiencies caused by noise,” Peruzzo said.

Attempts to control qubits typically relied on assumptions about what noise was and what caused it, Peruzzo said. 

“Rather than make assumptions, we developed a protocol that uses machine learning to study the noise while also using modelling to predict what the system does in response to the noise,” he said.

With the use of the quantum photonic processors, Peruzzo said this hybrid method could help quantum computers perform more precisely and efficiently, impacting how we control quantum devices in the future. He said, “We believe our new hybrid method has the potential to become the mainstream control approach in quantum computing.”  

Lead author, RMIT’s Dr. Akram Youssry, said the results of the newly developed approach showed significant improvement over the traditional methods of modelling and control and could be applied to other quantum devices beyond photonic processors. He said, “The method helped us uncover and understand aspects of our devices that are beyond the known physical models of this technology. This will help us design even better devices in the future.”

This work is published in Npj Quantum Information.

Peruzzo said startup companies in quantum computing could be created around his team’s photonic device design and quantum control method, which they would continue to study in terms of applications and their “full potential.” He failed to mention laptops even though that’s what we’re thinking of here.

He did, however, say, “Quantum photonics is one of the most promising quantum industries, because the photonics industry and manufacturing infrastructure are very well established. Quantum machine-learning algorithms have potential advantages over other methods in certain tasks, especially when dealing with large datasets.

“Imagine a world where computers work millions of times faster than they do today, where we can send information securely without any fear of it being intercepted, and where we can solve problems in seconds that would currently take years.

“This isn’t just fantasy – it’s the potential future powered by quantum technologies, and research like ours is paving the way.” 

We look forward to the inevitable trickling down of this technology into portable computers just like Alan Turing’s Nazi-beating, room-filling devices have evolved into ultraportable laptops that weigh just a kilo. However, we’re wary that Ai may get its hand on such technology and unleash an army of Terminators on us all, too.

Leave a Reply