BIGGER AND BETTER quantum computing is around the corner

H Hannan

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BIGGER AND BETTER quantum computing is around the corner
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Bigger and better Quantum computing may be just around the corner after the release of a new ion trap, the Enchilada trap. Sandia National Laboratories has created the first batch of a powerful new ion trap called the Enchilada Trap. This microchip device is a core component of certain quantum computers.

Sandia National Laboratories recently unveiled its largest ion trap quantum computer yet – the “Enchilada Trap” – representing a major milestone in the lab’s 20-year trapped ion quantum computing program. With a capacity for up to 200 qubits, the Enchilada Trap provides researchers much-needed room to experiment with larger quantum systems and more complex algorithms.

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The Enchilada Trap significantly boosts qubit count over Sandia’s prior generation Roadrunner Trap, which capped at just 32 qubits. While even 200 qubits fall far short of fault-tolerant, practically useful scale, this increase enables testing new ideas and capabilities not viable on smaller prototypes. Having access to larger qubit arrays lets researchers trial architectural concepts, controls, and error mitigation techniques that will be essential as quantum systems grow.

Ensuring reliable operation at 200 qubits posed numerous design challenges for Sandia’s engineers. They leveraged two decades of ion-trapping expertise to creatively overcome limitations plaguing previous generations.

One major innovation was developing an electrode network that branches out like a tree to neatly hold and selectively rearrange the increased number of individual charged atom qubits. This flexible new electrode architecture provides room to individually transport and position qubits for circuit wiring.

Additionally, the team added sophisticated microscopic features to reduce problematic heat buildup from larger qubit numbers. Without these heat dissipation optimizations, electric current flow would have generated performance-sapping noise and instability.

The Enchilada Trap’s unprecedented 200 qubit capacity resulted from a decade of continuous trapped ion expertise at Sandia’s state-of-the-art microfabrication facility. Each design refinement and milestone builds the foundation for the next.

Recently, partners at Duke University received the first Enchilada Traps to characterize, optimize, and push performance boundaries. Ongoing collaboration will be key to wringing out every advantage these cutting-edge devices offer.

While the Enchilada Trap remains a prototype, its 200 qubits provide critical breathing room for quantum researchers to investigate components and algorithms needed to properly harness exponentially greater quantum power down the road. Just as past quantum leaps enabled today’s achievements, Sandia’s latest ion-trapping breakthrough seeds future advances.

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