Technology-Watching: Quantum Microchips Connected in Record-Breaking World First

[from UK Research and Innovation]

Researchers in the UK have successfully transferred data between quantum microchips for the first time.

This helps overcome a key obstacle to building a commercial quantum computer.

The milestone achieved by a team from the University of Sussex and Brighton-based quantum computer developer Universal Quantum, allows chips to be linked like a jigsaw.

On track to useful quantum computers

It means that many more qubits, the basic calculating unit, can be joined together than is possible on a single microchip. This will make a more powerful quantum computer possible.

The project, which has been backed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), has also broken the world record for quantum connection speed and accuracy.

The scaling of qubit numbers from the current level of around 100 qubits to nearer 1 million is central to creating a quantum processor that can make useful calculations.

The significant achievement is based on a technical blueprint for creating a large-scale quantum computer, which was first published in 2017 with funding from EPSRC.

Within the blueprint was the ground-breaking concept successfully demonstrated with this research of linking quantum computing modules with electrical fields.

Unlocking UK potential

The UK is a leader in the global race to develop useful quantum computers, which represent a step-change in computing power.

Their development may help solve pressing challenges from drug discovery to energy-efficient fertilizer production. But their impact is expected to sweep across the economy, transforming most sectors and all our lives.

Potential to scale up

Winfried Hensinger, Professor of Quantum Technologies at the University of Sussex and Chief Scientist and co-founder at Universal Quantum said:

As quantum computers grow, we will eventually be constrained by the size of the microchip, which limits the number of quantum bits such a chip can accommodate.

In demonstrating that we can connect 2 quantum computing chips, a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, and, crucially, that it works so well, we unlock the potential to scale up by connecting hundreds or even thousands of quantum computing microchips.

Speed and precision

The researchers were successful in transporting the qubits using electrical fields with a 99.999993% success rate and a connection rate of 2424 transfers per second. Both numbers are world records.

Dr. Kedar Pandya, Director of Cross-Council Programmes at EPSRC, said:

This significant milestone is evidence of how EPSRC funded science is seeding the commercial future for quantum computing in the UK.

The potential for complex technologies, like quantum, to transform our lives and create economic value widely relies on visionary early-stage investment in academic research.

We deliver that crucial building block and are delighted that the University of Sussex and its spin-out company, Universal Quantum, are demonstrating the strength it supports.

Institute of Physics award winner

Universal Quantum has been awarded €67 million from the German Aerospace Center to build 2 quantum computers.

The University of Sussex spin-out was also recently named as one of the 2022 Institute of Physics award winners in the business start-up category.

First Clean Energy Cybersecurity Accelerator Participants Begin Technical Assessment

[From the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) News]

Program Selected Three Participants for Cohort 1

The Clean Energy Cybersecurity Accelerator™ (CECA)’s first cohort of solution providers—Blue Ridge Networks, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Xage—recently began a technical assessment of their technologies that offer strong authentication solutions for distributed energy resources.

The selected solution providers will take part in a six-month acceleration period, where solutions will be evaluated in the Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) cyber range.

Working with its partners, CECA identified urgent security gaps, supporting emerging technologies as they build security into new technologies at the earliest stage—when security is most effective and efficient. The initiative is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and sponsored by DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) and utility industry partners in collaboration with DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

“We are thrilled to welcome and work with the first participants to the secure energy transformation,” said Jon White, director of NREL’s Cybersecurity Program Office. “These cyber-solution providers will work with NREL, using its world-class capabilities, to develop their ideas into real-world solutions. We are ready to build security into technologies at the early development stages when most effective and efficient.”

The selected innovators:

Blue Ridge Networks’ LinkGuard system “cloaks” critical information technology network operations from destructive and costly cyberattacks. The system overlays onto existing network infrastructure to secure network segments from external discovery or data exfiltration. Through a partnership with Schneider Electric, Blue Ridge Networks helped deploy a solution to protect supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems for the utility industry.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC)’s Binary Armor® is used by the U.S. Department of Defense and utilities to protect critical assets, with the help of subject matter experts to deliver cyber solutions. SNC plans to integrate as a software solution into a communication gateway or other available edge processing to provide a scalable solution to enforce safe operation in an unauthenticated ecosystem. SNC currently helps secure heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems; programmable logical controllers; and wildfire detection, with remote monitoring for two different utilities.

Xage uses identity-based access control to protect users, machines, apps, and data, at the edge and in the cloud, enforcing zero-trust access to secure operations and data universally. To test technology in energy sector environments, Xage provides zero-trust remote access, has demonstrated proofs of concept, and deploys local and remote access at various organizations.

Three major U.S. utilities, with more expected to join, are partners with CECA: Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Duke Energy and Xcel Energy. At the end of each cohort cycle, cyber innovators will present their solutions to the utilities with the goal to make an immediate impact.

Additionally, CECA participants benefit from access to NREL’s unique testing and evaluation capabilities, including its ARIES cyber range, developed with support from EERE. The ARIES cyber range provides one of the most advanced simulation environments with unparalleled real-time situational awareness and visualization to evaluate renewable energy system defenses.

Applications for the second CECA cohort will open in early January 2023 for providers offering solutions that uncover hidden risks due to incomplete system visibility and device security and configuration.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC.

World-Watching: Chinese Tech Groups Shaping UN Facial Recognition and Surveillance Standards

(from the Financial Times)

Chinese technology companies are shaping new facial recognition and surveillance standards at the UN, according to leaked documents obtained by the Financial Times, as they try to open up new markets in the developing world for their cutting-edge technologies.

Companies such as ZTE, Dahua and China Telecom are among those proposing new international standardsspecifications aimed at creating universally consistent technology — in the UN’s International Telecommunication Union.

Read the full article [archived PDF]