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Jan 04, 2017 08:06 AM EST

The Year 2017 Could Be The Start Of Quantum Computers

Preparing for a quantum future: An inside look at groundbreaking research in Singapore
The Year 2017 Could Be The Start Of Quantum Computers
Google and Microsoft are not the only companies that are trying to build a quantum computer. More and more tech startups are also making crucial breakthroughs that might soon give us the first working quantum computer
(Photo : Soul Evolution/YouTube)

Before the year 2016 ended, there have been lots of talks and discussions that revolved around quantum computing. Microsoft and Google have invested billions already not only in experiments but in building a quantum computer. Other big tech companies, like IBM, are following suit and have launched their own quantum computer project. Because of this, a lot of experts and scientists predict that 2017 could be the beginning of quantum computers.

Christopher Monroe, a physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park, observed that scientists and engineers are going beyond the realm of experiment towards the actual building of these super computers. Monroe, who is also the co-founder of the startup IonQ which is also set to build their own quantum computer.

Monroe and his startup aren't alone. Yale University physicist Robert Schoelkopf is also racing to build a quantum computer at Yale with his startup called Quantum Circuits while Chad Rigetti, a former IBM applied physicist, who founded Rigetti said they are reaching crucial technical milestones as well.

The biggest challenge of these scientists is managing the qubits (quantum bits) as they increase because a slight disturbance in its environment can collapse all of them. So far, the quantum computer that holds more qubits has 20 and is being tested in a laboratory at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. What scientists hoped to build was a computer that holds up to 50 or even more qubits.

There are a number of proposals how to create qubits. The first one was to encode quantum states as oscillating currents in superconducting loops while the second one is to encode qubits in single ions contained in electric and magnetic fields inside vacuum traps.

Microsoft, on the other hand, is using a technology that has yet to be proven but holds a lot of promise - braiding the qubits together. As the qubits tangle around each other to form braids, they become more resistant to disturbances making error correction much easier.

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