Australian scientists just got $26 million to help build the world’s first super-powerful quantum computer

Photo: www.cqc2t.org

Quantum computing in Australia has just scored $26 million from the Turnbull government.

Over five years the investment, which has been given to the Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation & Communication Technology (CQC2T), will go towards building the world’s first super-powerful quantum computer.

Professor Michelle Simmons, who leads the UNSW program, has estimated it could cost $70 million – $80 million to build a quantum computer in Silicon Valley by 2020.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and minister for industry, innovation and science Christopher Pyne today opened a new quantum computing lab at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) following the announcement.

The new labs will double the productive capacity of the CQC2T at UNSW, helping Australian researchers remain as global leaders by building a 10-qubit prototype quantum integrated circuit.

The $26 million boost was supported by $10 million each from Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank.

When the government first pledged that it would making the investment, Business Insider’s Josh Nicholas explored why the advancement of computing power is so exciting.

For the last 50 years, the number of transistors on a microchip has doubled roughly every 18 months – this largely explains the increase in performance and decrease in cost.

If this trend – referred to as Moore’s law – continues apace, the circuits on a processor by 2030 will be on an atomic scale. The next step is quantum computing.

Quantum computing, which harnesses atoms and molecules to perform processing and memory tasks, has not yet been achieved on a practical level, although basic quantum computers have been built.

Unlike today’s computers, which work by manipulating bits in a binary state – they are either 0 or 1 – quantum computers aren’t limited to just two states. In fact, the quibits – atoms, ions, photons or electrons – within a quantum computer can be a 1, 0 or both at the same time. This means a quantum computer could potentially work on a million computations at once, while our current computers work on just one.

There have been several advances in the past decades, from quantum computers that could find the prime factors of a number to solving a sudoku puzzle. But nothing close to what we would think of as a computer.

NOW READ: 7 awesome ways quantum computers will change the world

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