Step towards quantum computers ‘that could destroy the internet’

Researchers have warned that quantum computers could break all current encryptions (Getty)

Researchers have announced a major breakthrough in the quest for an effective quantum computer – a machine that could revolutionize everything from drug discovery to cancer treatment.

Quantum computers have “qubits” instead of “bits” of ones and zeros — and qubits can be one, zero, or both at the same time.

The creation of an effective quantum computer could unleash untold computing power, researchers believe – although some warn the discovery could “destroy the internet” given quantum machines’ ability to break current encryption methods.

Researchers from the University of Sussex and Universal Quantum showed this month that qubits can be transferred directly between quantum computer microchips, and demonstrated it with record-breaking speed and accuracy.

This breakthrough solves a major challenge in building quantum computers big and powerful enough to tackle complex problems from climate change to cancer treatment.

Today, quantum computers operate on the 100-qubit scale.

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Experts believe millions of qubits are required to solve critical problems beyond the reach of today’s most powerful supercomputers.

There is a global quantum race to develop quantum computers that can solve critical problems in nearly every industry, from aviation to finance.

Researchers used electric field connections to allow qubits to move from one quantum computer microchip module to another with unprecedented speed and precision.

This allows chips to be put together like a jigsaw puzzle to form a more powerful quantum computer.

The University of Sussex and Universal Quantum team was successful in transporting the qubits with a 99.999993% success rate and a connection rate of 2424/s, both figures are world records and orders of magnitude better than previous solutions.

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Professor Winfried Hensinger, Professor of Quantum Technologies at the University of Sussex and senior scientist and co-founder of Universal Quantum, said: “As quantum computers grow, we will eventually be constrained by the size of the microchip, which limits the number of quantum bits such a chip can hold.

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“Thus, we knew that a modular approach is key to making quantum computing powerful enough to solve fundamentally changing industry problems. By showing that we can connect two quantum computing chips – a bit of a puzzle – and most importantly, that it works so well, we unlock the potential for scaling by connecting hundreds or even thousands of quantum computing microchips.”

While connecting the modules at world record speeds, the scientists also verified that the qubit’s “strange” quantum nature remains unaffected during transport, for example that the qubit can be 0 and 1 at the same time.

Universal Quantum has just received 67 million euros from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to build two quantum computers, where they will use this technology under the contract.

Professor Sasha Roseneil, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, said: “It is fantastic to see that the inspired work of physicists at the University of Sussex and Universal Quantum has led to this phenomenal breakthrough, which brings us a significant step closer to a quantum computer that will be of real social benefit.

“These computers will have limitless applications – from improving drug development, to creating new materials, to maybe even finding solutions to the climate crisis. ”

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Watch: What is quantum computing and how will it change the world?