Physicists have sketched a blueprint for building a quantum computer using existing technology that would be powerful enough to crack important and currently unsolvable problems, such as factoring enormous numbers.
Such a machine would need to be larger than a football pitch and would cost at least £100 million (US$126 million) to make, its designers say.
“Yes it will be big, yes it will be expensive — but it absolutely can be built right now,” says quantum physicist Winfried Hensinger of the University of Sussex, UK, who leads the team that published the blueprint in a paperin Science Advances1 on 1 February.
The idea is not the first proposal to build a practical quantum computer, and puts forward tough engineering challenges, says Andrea Morello, a quantum physicist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. But it is remarkable for its ambition and approach, he says. “I do think this is a landmark paper, and it will be very influential in the community for many years ahead."
“While this proposal is incredibly challenging, I wish more in the quantum community would think big like this,” agrees Christopher Monroe, a physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park.
QUANTUM ARCHITECTUREQuantum computers promise to exploit the remarkable properties of quantum particles to carry out certain calculations exponentially faster than their classical counterparts. Teams around the world are competing to build them at scale, but so far, most designs target a few dozen qubits. Many thousands are probably needed to do useful calculations, such as finding the prime factors of large numbers.
Hensinger’s team suggest using ions trapped by magnetic fields to create their qubits — an approach that physicists have been working on for more than 20 years. Most of the components necessary to build a computer with trapped-ion qubit technology have already been demonstrated, Monroe says. “Our community needs a systems-engineering push to simply build it.”
Read more here: www.scientificamerican.com/article/physicists-call-for-a-soccer-field-size-quantum-computer/