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World's first quantum computing machine built in China

Last updated on: May 03, 2017 15:08 IST

Chinese scientists have successfully built the world’s first quantum computing machine that is 24,000 times faster than its international counterparts and may dwarf the processing power of existing supercomputers.

The scientists announced their achievement at a press conference at the Shanghai Institute for Advanced Studies of University of Science and Technology of China.

Quantum computing could in some ways dwarf the processing power of today’s supercomputers, according to researchers.

The manipulation of multi-particle entanglement is the core of quantum computing technology and has been the focus of international quantum computing research.

Recently, Pan Jianwei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lu Chaoyang and Zhu Xiaobo of the University of Science and Technology of China and Wang Haohua of Zhejiang University set international records in quantum control of the maximal numbers of entangled photonic quantum bits and entangled superconducting quantum bits.

Pan said quantum computers could, in principle, solve certain problems faster than classical computers.

Despite substantial progress in the past two decades, building quantum machines that can actually outperform classical computers in some specific tasks - an important milestone termed ‘quantum supremacy’ -- remains challenging.

In the quest for quantum supremacy, Boson sampling -- an intermediate quantum computer model -- has received considerable attention, as it requires fewer physical resources than building universal optical quantum computers, Pan was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Last year, the researchers had developed the world’s best single photon source based on semiconductor quantum dots.

Now, they are using the high-performance single photon source and electronically programmable photonic circuit to build a multi-photon quantum computing prototype to run the Boson sampling task.

The test results show the sampling rate of this prototype is at least 24,000 times faster than international counterparts, researchers said.

At the same time, the prototype quantum computing machine is 10 to 100 times faster than the first electronic computer, ENIAC, and the first transistor computer, TRADIC, in running the classical algorithm, Pan said.
It is the first quantum computing machine based on single photons that goes beyond the early classical computer, and ultimately paves the way to a quantum computer that can beat classical computers.

Last year, China had successfully launched the world’s first quantum satellite that will explore ‘hack proof’ quantum communications by transmitting unhackable keys from space, and provide insight into the strangest phenomenon in quantum physics -- quantum entanglement.

The research was published in the journal Nature Photonics.

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