US foundry SkyWater is expanding its partnership with PsiQuantum to develop a quantum computer based on silicon photonics

US-based SkyWater Technology, a trusted Category 1A foundry accredited by the US Department of Defense’s Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA), announced 2 error-corrected general-purpose silicon photonics quantum computers.

While there are many different approaches to creating a small number of qubits, the photonic approach has significant technical advantages at the scale required for error correction. PsiQuantum believes that 1,000,000 qubits are required to achieve fault tolerance and error correction.

Founded in 2015, PsiQuantum also partnered with GlobalFoundries in 2021 to manufacture quantum photonic and electronic chips, marking a milestone in the manufacture of photonic quantum computers.

In January 2023, PsiQuantum signed a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to work on their Utility-Scale Quantum Computing (US2QC) program, the main goal of which is to determine if an underexplored approach is amenable to quantum computing is much faster to achieve utility-scale operations than traditional forecasts.

“Using single photons as qubits offers tremendous benefits, but this approach to quantum computing has been surprisingly underexplored, particularly in the United States,” said Jeremy O’Brien, CEO and co-founder of PsiQuantum, in a press release. “The benefits of the photonic approach – including its potential to leverage existing semiconductor fabrication techniques – are most evident at scale, and we believe this was an important factor in winning the contract.”

Now, PsiQuantum and SkyWater have partnered to develop silicon photonic chips at the latter’s manufacturing facility in Bloomington, Minnesota.

“We are excited about SkyWater’s outstanding 200mm photonics capabilities and how they meet our critical development needs. We have found partnering with SkyWater beneficial due to the valuable speed and flexibility of the team and company. Having domestic factories with proven manufacturing capability and the development flexibility to support our required process flows is key to the success of our product plans,” commented Fariba Danesh, Chief Operating Officer at PsiQuantum.

“We are pleased with the unique results of PsiQuantum’s technology and the significant technological advances they have made at SkyWater,” said Steve Kosier, SkyWater’s Chief Technology Officer. “The engineering teams at PsiQuantum and SkyWater are working together to co-create the reality of a quantum-enabled world.