Boston startup QuEra takes novel route to quantum hardware

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QuEra Computing Inc emerged from stealth mode in Boston earlier this month on November 17 to steal the show armed with a 256-qubit device, $11 million in revenues and $17 million from a group of investors including the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten.

“QuEra will accelerate the quantum computing industry’s trajectory, making it a technology not of the future, but of today,” said Takuya Kitagawa, Chief Data Officer at Rakuten, who led Rakuten’s investment in QuEra.

The company relies on what it calls the neutral-atom technology. This is based on the patented research of its scientific co-founders, Professors Mikhail Lukin, Professor of Physics at Harvard, Markus Greiner, Professor of Physics at Harvard, and Vladan Vuletic, Professor of Physics at MIT.

Atomic qubits

Due to the specifics of the technology that QuEra uses, the company’s hardware is able to densely pack “neutral atoms into sub-millimeter arrays.” These atoms are laser cooled to the incredible temperatures of “one millionth of a degree Kelvin above absolute zero.”

In the company’s own words, its “quantum machines utilize nature’s perfect qubits based on Rydberg atoms — fast, high quality gates, and scalability to millions of qubits.”

Instead of connecting the quantum transistors with wires, the company uses what is known as The Rydberg blockade is in a way the secret sauce which enables the relatively larger number of qubits in QuEra’s device to remain stable. This works on the premise that atoms are nature’s perfect qubits which can store quantum information.

And the on-demand interactions between these atomic qubits is made possible by shining laser light on them. This puffs up or bloats the atom as it drives electrons to the outer orbitals. However, this condition is only possible if the parent atom is not blocked by another such bloated atom.

Towards commercialisation

Most importantly, the company’s 256-qubit device will be soon accessible to customers. QuEra promises that the device will be useful today – not years from now. It will be able to target applications in quantum optimization and quantum simulation.

QuEra has a deep shelf of talent apart from the founders who are faculty at Harvard and MIT and notch between themselves a combined 93 years of experience of quantum technology.

Chip-scale optoelectronic control expert, Professor Dirk Englund, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, Dr. Nathan Gemelke, Chief Technology Officer, and Dr. John Pena, a serial hard-tech entrepreneur completes the team at QuEra.

Consequently, the company is focused on both improving the power of the new technology and building a commercial quantum computer.

The year 2021 has shown a lot of promise in the quantum hardware space. Market dominance, however, is not determined by tech superiority alone.

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