In the laboratories of large research companies on quantum computing advance at a strong pace. The proof comes from Intel. The company has just produced quantum chips uniform and stable. What does that mean? That mass production of these chips is closer than we think.
Leveraging what already exists
Let’s say Intel wants to make quantum computing successful, but without reinventing the wheel. Not completely. Instead of developing a completely new production process, the company tries to reuse existing technologies as much as possible.
In the research in question, the Intel Labs and Components Research departments succeeded in using the EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography) standard in the production of quantum chips.
This is a lithography technology that uses a laser and some elements to generate very short wavelength light to make modern chips.
Intel’s achievement is important because the company’s researchers were able to harness EUV in quantum computing. For the record, the same technology is used in the industry to produce 10nm, 7nm or even smaller processors.
It worked so well that they were able to use almost the entire surface of a 300mm silicon wafer (the wafers whose blocks serve as the basis for making chips) with “remarkable uniformity,” according to Intel.
figure of the qubit
To understand what this means, it’s good to remember the concept a qubit. This stands for quantum essence. In current computing, based on binary logic, a bit takes on a state represented by 0 or 1. In quantum computing, a qubit can take on 0, 1, or a superposition of both values.
Here you can see why quantum computing is considered so revolutionary. In theory, this approach will allow complex problems to be solved quickly when, in traditional computing, they might take days or weeks to complete.
It is therefore important that a quantum computer supports a significant number of qubits, in the thousands or even millions. It’s the proverbial “the more the merrier”.
Manufacturing the modern chips that power our computers and cell phones, for example, is a challenge. But this challenge is constantly being overcome because the semiconductor industry has been around for decades and has never stopped developing.
So it’s a reasonable idea for the industry to try to use, as much as possible, its baggage with traditional chips to enable quantum units, which follow a much more complex logic.
Such a silicon spin qubit
Intel did it with silicon spin qubits. This means that qubits are based on the same semiconductor material (silicon) that is the basis of today’s chips.
But they have a quantum property – spin – that functions like a tiny magnetic mechanism that, based on the movement of electrons, can manipulate information.
This is a very simplistic explanation, but it can still sound confusing. In any case, the most important thing to realize is that Intel has taken another step towards a scenario where quantum computing is viable.
Another one because the company has already taken an important step in the first semester, when it produced its first qubits. The latest result is a continuation of that work.
A successful sequel. At the time, Intel predicted that its process would allow the use of a 300mm silicon wafer to produce qubits with at least 95% efficiency.
is not that so?
To prove this, the company used a device called a Cryoprober, which operates at -271.45 degrees Celsius to keep the qubits stable (without an unexpected change of state). The test confirmed that 95% of the chips in the manufactured 300mm board performed as expected.
Well, the manufacturing process is based on EUV technology, which is already used by Intel. Furthermore, it has been proven that qubits behave uniformly, i.e. that there are no significant structural differences between them. This means that the company has paved the way for the production of quantum processors on a large scale.
When? There’s no way for us to know. There is still a lot to explore. Intel has to run tests at room temperature, for example. However, the results already achieved reinforce the perception that silicon spin qubits have consistent advantages over other types.
It was already known that they can maintain their quantum state longer than, for example, qubits based on superconductors. It has now become clear that its production at an industrial pace is not only possible, but close to becoming a reality.
Everything indicates that the next chapters of this story will be very interesting.
In a significant advance, Intel is close to producing large-scale quantum chips
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