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‘Not chasing IBM and Google’: Russian scientists work on independent quantum computer

The aim is to develop a system based on logical qubits with an error correction that would be useful from a practical standpoint, according to the company engineer

MOSCOW, January 22. /TASS/. Russian scientists developing a quantum computer based on a superconductor device have no intention of copying the achievements of Google and IBM and instead are aiming for a different goal. They want to develop a system based on logical qubits with an error correction that would be useful from a practical standpoint, says Ilya Besedin, an engineer from the MISiS National University of Science and Technology superconducting metamaterials lab.

Quantum technologies based on superconductors have been under development around the world for more than 20 years, producing some significant results. The first Russian qubit — the smallest data storage element in a quantum computer — was produced in 2015, through a joint effort of several labs led by scientists Oleg Astafiev, Alexey Ustinov and Valery Ryazanov.

"We have no intention of simply chasing after IBM and Google. IBM lays one qubit on top of another, increasing their computers’ power, but this does not solve the main problem: the lack of practical use, and beneficial computations. Today, the number of qubits doubles every year, but quantum technologies are not going to replace conventional computers anytime soon."

Besedin explained that modern quantum systems are vulnerable to external effects and generate a large percentage of errors.

"One way to proceed could be the creation of qubits with a low error rate," Besedin suggested.

According to the engineer, the more physical qubits there are in the system, the better logical qubits work. One logical qubit can take up to a hundred of physical ones. Besides, work is underway to create qubit arrays and qubit chains on a single chip that will display aggregate quantum effects.

"If we double the number of qubits every year, then, in ten years, we will have 50,000 qubits. Maybe, we will be able to run something on these qubits with an error correction. Ten years is the minimum estimation," the scientist noted.

The Russian Foundation for Advaced Research Projects created the superconductive metamaterials lab at the NUST MISiS University in 2016. In less than three years, the lab developed a technology to produce superconductive two-qubit circuit (a quantum computer prototype) and demonstrated single-qubit and two-qubit operations.