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Quantum technology comes from the lab to create a mini-startup boom

Forty years after the famous physicist Richard Feynman came up with the idea of ​​creating a quantum computer, technology began to emerge from academic laboratories and into the real world.

Several companies are making progress in developing quantum computers and selling machines over the cloud. Software companies are evolving to write programs for powerful new computers. On Wednesday, the University of Chicago և partners launched the country’s first program to support start-up quantum technology companies.

Quantum technology seeks to use the unique laws of quantum mechanics to create more powerful information processing tools. Quantum computers are the mainstay of technology, but quantum particles are also equipped with more secure communication networks, more powerful imaging sensors, and measurements.

There are obstacles to overcoming technology until it is widespread, but the pace of progress is similar to the dawn of the electronics industry, says David Avshalom, a professor of molecular physics and engineering at the University of Chicago who helped create the new Duality Accelerator in parallel. University of Illinois և Argonne National Laboratory.

“We are at the birth stage of a new field of technology. “It’s as if we are at the point where the transistor is being discovered,” Avshalom said in an interview. “People are starting to think about systems, programs, programs,” he said. “Every month or two we see something appear.”

The competition is global. Europe և China is also investing in science.

Existing computers ակց communication networks store, process, և transmit information by dividing known bits of streams, commonly referred to as zero or single representing electrical or optical pulses.

Quantum bits or qubits are units of data that are fundamentally different from the electronics bits of today. Often atoms, electrons or photons, they can exist as zero և at the same time, or in any position, flexibility that allows them to process information with new eggs. Some physicists compare them to a spinning coin, which at the same time is in the shape of a head and tail.

The cubits are small and tend to stop working at the slightest disturbance, such as a slight change in temperature. But companies, including IBM, Google, Honeywell և IonQ, are making progress by using qubits for early-stage computers, some of which users can access online.

IBM now has about 20 cloud-connected quantum computers, offering free access to half of them so researchers and the public can experiment, said Bob Sutor, the company’s “main quantum exponent.”

Sutor says IBM’s high-end cars are available to paying customers, including ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs, Daimler and Boeing. Large companies use computers to try to solve difficult tasks, such as finding better chemical reactions to make new materials or finding the best way to raise funds in an investment portfolio.

IBM also plans to install cars for its customers on the spot. The company recently announced a health research partnership with the Cleveland Clinic, which will include the delivery of quantum computers to hospital laboratories next year.

Amazon Web Services և Microsoft also recently began offering cloud access to quantum computers built by other IonQ companies.

The advent of computers helps new software companies to write code for machines. Other entrepreneurs set up companies to develop quantum sensors ման communication equipment.

The Chicago area is already the center of quantum technology, which formed the basis of three of the eight federally funded quantum research centers launched last year. Now the city aims to become the center of the startup scene.

The Duality Accelerator hopes to use its physical-engineering experience from university colleagues և adjacent to Argonne և Fermi National Laboratories to support post-graduate business ideas. students և others.

Based at the University of Chicago School of Business, the accelerator program will invest $ 20 million over the next decade to help 10 quantum start-ups a year. The companies will receive a $ 50,000 grant, access to laboratory և office space և close teaching by science և business lecturers.

Paul E. Schrankler, head of the Polski Business and Innovation Center at the Business School, said the university hopes to replicate the success of its previous startup projects, which have helped support Grubhub and Venmo.

Pranav Gokhalen is a recent Ph.D. says he hopes his software will receive one of the Duality Awards. Gokhale co-founded Super.Tech with one of his professors, Fred Chong, who leads a federally funded team that develops new algorithms, software, and machine designs for quantum computers.

Chong said that although quantum computers are beginning to emerge, “there is very little on the software side.”

“For the first time we have real equipment, real machines that have been built. At the same time, these cars are very prone to mistakes, “he said. “Although there is a lot of potential, now it is very difficult to force them to solve real problems.”

According to him, it is a challenge for software developers to design programs that work for “imperfect quantum machines” and “are aware of the physics of machines.”

Gokhale said the goals of Super.Tech include software development that will help energy companies distribute their energy resources more efficiently. “Utilities need to find out which generators they connect to meet demand,” he said. “Can you imagine that 4 o’clock in the evening might have a different energy requirement than 4 o’clock in the morning when people are asleep?”

Avshalom said that he is a candidate of sciences. The students recently came up with a new idea that they are now thinking about. Their idea for a new type of quantum sensor came from a study by their lab.

Brian De Marco, a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who helped lift Dualis off the ground, said he saw the sensors as one of the closest time-consuming applications of quantum technology. The sensitivity of the Qubits can make them powerful tools for applications such as looking down from satellites or looking into space or discovering new underground mines.

Investor interest in the industry is growing. Maryland-based IonQ, founded by physicist Chris Monroe and Jungsang Kim in 2015, has raised tens of millions of dollars from various mutual funds, most recently Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a Bill Gates-backed clean energy investment fund. in technology. ,

Breakthrough Energy is interested in quantum computing as a tool for finding new materials to make carbon capture possible.

ColdQuanta, another company in Boulder, Colo, hopes to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in investor funding in the near future, said Dan Caruso, CEO of the company.

“I kind of compare what is happening now to quantum to what was happening on the Internet in the early 1990s,” he said. “Quantum is becoming something most people have not heard of … moving quickly to the commercial stage.”

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