Self-Correcting Quantum Computers: A Realistic Possibility on the Horizon?

January 05, 2024

The potential of quantum computers, offering unparalleled speeds and efficiencies beyond the capabilities of current supercomputers, has been hindered by the inherent challenge of error correction. Unlike classical computers, quantum computers face difficulties in correcting errors by repeatedly copying encoded data. This limitation has impeded the widespread adoption and commercialization of quantum computing technologies. However, a recent paper published in Nature sheds light on a breakthrough achieved by a quantum computing platform developed at Harvard University.

In collaboration with MIT and QuEra Computing based in Boston, the research, led by Harvard's Dolev Bluvstein, a recent U.S. National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, demonstrates the platform's capability to address the long-standing challenge of quantum error correction. The Harvard platform, constructed over several years, utilizes an array of laser-trapped rubidium atoms, each serving as a qubit, capable of executing rapid calculations. The researchers reported nearly flawless performance of its two-qubit entangling gates, showcasing extremely low error rates. Notably, they achieved entanglement with error rates below 0.5%, placing the technology's operational quality on par with other leading quantum computing platforms such as superconducting qubits and trapped-ion qubits. This advancement marks a significant step forward in realizing self-correcting quantum computers, potentially overcoming a major hurdle in their broader implementation.