Diamond-based Accelerators May Bring Quantum Computing to the Edge
Will 2022 finally be the year of quantum utility? Australian-German startup Quantum Brilliance believes it has the key to shrink quantum computing for mobile devices—at any temperature.
The world of quantum computing hardware has been a hotbed for innovation in 2021, from processors to photonic chips. In fact, by 2040, the quantum sector could be worth more than $4 billion a year and generate 16,000 jobs, according to some estimates.
However, despite the momentum, researchers must still overcome many challenges—the biggest being the temperature issue: historically, quantum computers could only operate at about -273 degrees Celsius—a temperature colder than conditions in outer space.
Quantum Brilliance's integrated quantum chip is said to miniaturize the electrical, optical, and magnetic control systems of diamond-based quantum computers.
One quantum computing startup hoping to shatter the glass ceiling for the next generation of quantum computing hardware is Quantum Brillance (QB). QB says it can store massive amounts of data through a network of qubits without the need for complex systems, all while operating at room temperature.
Quantum Brilliance's mission is to develop large-scale, interconnected quantum accelerators for complex fields like molecular dynamics, battery technology, drug discovery, and many more. In an interview with Startup Daily, QB's EMEA general manager Mark Mattingley-Scott—a former IBM executive—shared that QB intends to shrink quantum computers for use in desktop and mobile applications.
The Slow Evolution of Quantum Computing
Classical computers can’t keep up with the accelerating rate of modern processing.
Part of the problem is that traditional transistors are reaching the physical limits of how much information in 0s or 1s can be transferred, stored, or relayed. Quantum computing has risen as a clear solution—considering that one quantum processor is 1,000 times faster than 30,000 classical processors.
Still, the evolution of quantum computing has been a slow one. The first quantum computers were constrained to mainframe roles. These large yet fragile machines required ultra-low temperatures and complex control systems to operate properly.
Quantum mainframes and quantum accelerators have traditionally held distinct roles. QB hopes to change that.
Quantum computers transfer information in the form of qubits, which hold a higher value and significantly more information than bits in classical computers. Qubits, however, bring their own challenges—namely, their instability and requirement of 20 millikelvins temperatures.
Now, Quantum Brilliance, an Australian-German quantum computing company, plans to deliver quantum hardware that would outshine CPUs and GPUs in size, weight, and power consumption. QB’s accelerators are based on diamond quantum computers that can operate in ambient conditions with simple controls.
Quantum Brilliance Looks to Diamonds to Move Forward
Founded in 2019, QB has received attention for its diamond-based quantum accelerators. In contrast to other quantum hardware under development, these accelerators don’t require absolute zero temperatures to operate. This allows developers to use quantum hardware beyond a temperature-controlled lab to on-site locations.
QB's five-year trajectory.
While room-temperature quantum computing isn’t a new concept, QB's diamond-based accelerators include other stand-apart features from other quantum hardware. For instance, QB's quantum accelerators negate the need for complex laser systems.
QB's solution also addresses the scaling hurdles of qubits. While researchers have traditionally struggled to fabricate more than a handful of qubits at a time, QB has invested in control structures to miniaturize and integrate chip-scale quantum microprocessors. The company does this by tapping into the physical traits of diamonds, which avoids the cryogenic vacuum systems that limit processors. QB envisions their diamond-based quantum accelerators making a significant impact in high-computing environments like data centers, hospitals, EVs, and satellites.
A Breakdown of Diamond-based Quantum Accelerators
QB's hardware consists of an array of processor nodes. Each node is made up of a nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center, a defect in the diamond lattice consisting of substitutional nitrogen atoms adjacent to a vacancy. The NV center allows quantum accelerators to operate at room temperature because the optical electron spin and readout mechanism retains high fidelity and contrast.
Concept behind QB's diamond quantum accelerator.
These NV centers can mitigate noise that is generated from thermal vibrations and magnetic impurities, which can destabilize qubits. The defects from the diamond’s lattice may one day give rise to a quantum network; that is, the interconnections of qubits formed by each node can optically communicate and assemble a mega-quantum computer with small copies of NV center-based processors. If this feat is met, then the next step would be to create an industry-first remote quantum computer.
2022: The Year of Quantum Implementation?
On-site quantum acceleration is a major claim amidst the popular notion of a cloud-accessible quantum realm. QB asserts that the goal of quantum research isn't to replace classical computing but to use this powerful processing in parallel with current technology to establish larger computing networks in any remote environment.
So far, QB has raised $13 million in seed funding and has successfully rolled out hardware to its first customer. Speaking on the future of quantum computing, QB's Mattingley-Scott remarks, “By the end of ’22 I think the path to quantum utility will be clear, and as an industry, we will be focusing much more on implementing, and less on research experiments.”
All images used courtesy of Quantum Brilliance