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Technical Perspective: Applying Design-Space Exploration to Quantum Architectures

By Frederic T. Chong

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 65 No. 3, Page 100
10.1145/3511063

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Quantum computing machines have made tremendous progress over the last 20 years, with quantum operations improving in fidelity by three orders of magnitude. Machines of non-trivial size are now deployed as cloud services and are available 24/7. Yet systematic design-space studies of how to scale these machines have been lacking. In the following paper, Murali et al. present the first such study on scaling trapped-ion quantum architectures, and their results challenge the conventional wisdom of experimentalists in the field.

Trapped ions are a very promising technology for implementing quantum bits (qubits). They are extremely consistent and reliable. In fact, the technology is like that used for atomic clocks. Charged ions are trapped in an electromagnetic field. Each ion represents a qubit and logical operations on qubits are implemented by hitting the ions with laser pulses at specific frequencies. Qubit readout is also implemented with laser pulses, where ions will emit photons only in the "1" state (and the photons are detected with a camera).

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