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.

China Monitor: How Immigration Is Shaping Chinese Society

(from MERICS China Monitor)

To the surprise of many, China has emerged as a destination country for immigration: As China’s population ages and its workforce shrinks, China needs more immigrants.

The background of immigrants to China is becoming more diverse. While the number of high-earning expatriates from developed countries has peaked, China is now also attracting more students than ever from all over the world, including many from lesser developed countries. Low-skilled labor and migration for marriage are also on the rise. The main areas that attract foreigners are the large urban centers along the coast (Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing) and borderland regions in the South, Northeast and Northwest, but smaller numbers are also making their way to smaller cities across China.

In the new MERICS China MonitorHow immigration is shaping Chinese society” [archived PDF], MERICS Director Frank N. Pieke and colleagues from other European universities and institutions discuss the most salient issues confronting the Chinese government and foreign residents themselves.

According to their analysis, for many foreigners China has become considerably less accommodating over the last ten years, particularly with regard to border control, public security, visa categories, and work and residence permits. China’s immigration policy is still driven by narrow concerns of regulation, institutionalization and control. It remains predicated on attracting high-quality professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs and investors. Long-term challenges like the emerging demographic transition, remain to be addressed.

The authors detect a worrying trend towards intolerance to ethnic and racial difference, fed by increasing nationalism and ethnic chauvinism. They argue that the Chinese government, civil society, foreign diplomatic missions, employers of foreigners and international organizations present in China should take a clear stance against racism and discrimination. China’s immigration policy needs to include the integration of foreigners into society and provide clear and predictable paths to acquiring permanent residence.

[Archived PDF]