h-bar joins the Quantum world association as a founding member for Asia.

Today sees the official launch of the Quantum world association in which h-bar joins as a founding member for Asia.  Below is the full text of the official press release. 

- Simon J. Devitt, co-founder, h-bar: Quantum Consultants


Official presentation of the Quantum World Association

at the Mobile World Congress

Leading global quantum companies found the first worldwide quantum association.


Mobile World Congress, Barcelona March 2nd 2017


The impact of first generation quantum technologies in our everyday life is a reality in several areas such as lasers, magnetic resonance imaging, GPS.

The second quantum revolution is already underway.  Governments and companies worldwide are investing substantially to unleash the power of quantum technologies. The first quantum communication satellite was launched last year, several quantum devices for Cybersecurity, quantum sensing and metrology, quantum simulation and other applications are already operational. 

Key government and commercial projects, at hardware and software level, are under development.

With the vision to bring together players in the field of quantum technologies and services, a group of leading companies has decided to found the Quantum World Association, a not-for-profit organization based in Barcelona (Spain).  

The vision of the Quantum World Association is to connect researchers, universities, companies and institutions to develop a quantum ecosystem and further promote quantum technologies. 

“Following the great acceptance of the quantum ThinkTank Barcelonaqbit, six months ago we decided to do a further step and to create an Association” said Alfonso Rubio-Manzanares, CEO of Entanglement Partners (Spain) and co-founder of the Quantum World Association.

The association was officially presented on March 2nd at the Mobile World Congress.

The Association has the objective to connect quantum industry and scientific leaders to create common standards, to understand business insights and to be a knowledge center for the industry” said Giorgio Maritan, Managing Director of Quantum World Association.

“Cybersecurity is one area where organizations are already preparing today for the quantum era, which is driving the growth of a new industry that brings both conventional and quantum technologies designed to be safe in an era with quantum computers” said Michele Mosca, CEO and Co-founder of EvolutionQ Inc.  (Canada).

“During the Mobile World Congress, we were able to demonstrate some of our quantum-safe security solutions, including our existing quantum random number generator and Quantum Key Distribution solutions. The cyber security community must integrate the risk of quantum computing into its strategy and protect data for the long-term future. Our common challenge is to help governments and enterprises to get ready in a timely manner,” said Dr Grégoire Ribordy, CEO of ID Quantique (Switzerland). 

The Quantum World Association confirmed that it is structuring 3 chapters that will help the international development.

The chapters are the following:

  • Asia. Led by H-Bar (Australia) 
  • Americas. Led by EvolutionQ (Canada)
  • Europe. Led by IDQuantique (Switzerland) and Entanglement Partners (Spain)

“The Quantum World Association is a major milestone in the field of quantum technology.  It illustrates to the world that we are ready to move out of the physics laboratory and into the industrial and commercial space.  H-bar is privileged to be a founding member and we anticipate a new revolution in the information technology sector firmly grounded in quantum technology” said Simon Devitt Co-founder of H-Bar (Australia)

"Our vision is to become the epicenter of Quantum knowledge empowering companies and other institutions to lead the future of quantum industries.

We are proud of the commitment of our founding members and we encourage companies to be involved in our association. Let's build the future together" said Oscar Sala, Chairman of the Board of Quantum World Association

Company Information:

About ID Quantique

Founded in 2001 as a spin-off of the Group of Applied Physics of the University of Geneva, ID Quantique is the world leader in quantum-safe crypto solutions, designed to protect data for the future. The company provides quantum-safe network encryption, secure quantum key generation and Quantum Key Distribution solutions and services to the financial industry, enterprises and government organizations globally.  IDQ’s Quantum Random Number Generator has been validated according to global standards and independent agencies, and 

is the reference in highly regulated and mission critical industries - such as security, encryption and online gaming - where trust is paramount.  

IDQ’s products are used by government, enterprise and academic customers in more than 60 countries and on every continent. As a privately held Swiss company focused on sustainable growth, IDQ is proud of its independence and neutrality, and believes in establishing long-term and trusted relationships with its customers and partners. 

For more information, please visit http://www.idquantique.com

About evolutionQ Inc:

Powerful new quantum technologies promise tremendous benefits, but also pose serious threats to cybersecurity.  

evolutionQ is the first company worldwide dedicated to offering the services and products organizations need to manage their quantum risk and to deploy cyber tools designed to be

safe against quantum computers in a timely and cost-effective manner.

evolutionQ was founded and is led by global leaders in quantum-safe cybersecurity credited with:

  • Leading fundamental research underpinning quantum-safe cybersecurity
  • Co-founding the Institute for Quantum Computing
  • Initiating and driving global standardization efforts
  • Teaching and training the quantum-safe workforce
  • Transferring knowledge and technology to industry and government for over two decades.

With a team of individuals with decades of experience bringing new cryptographic tools into widespread application, evolutionQ can evolve your organization to a quantum-safe position.  

For more information, please visit http://www.evolutionq.com/

About H-Bar

Founded in 2016 (Melbourne, Australia) , H-Bar is the first expert driven consultancy firm in the emerging field of quantum technology.  We are on the cusp of a second revolution in information processing and electronics, with devices being built to actively exploit the strange and often counterintuitive rules of quantum mechanics.  We are here to help and guide your understanding of this exciting new field and identify new and lucrative investment opportunities in this world changing class of technology.  

Our team consists of world recognised experts in the fields of quantum computing and communications systems, solid state, condensed matter and optical physics, quantum software engineering and experimental fabrication and design of active quantum technology.  Founded by Dr. Simon Devitt (Riken, Japan and Macquarie University, Sydney), Dr. Jared Cole (RMIT University, Melbourne) and recently joined by our new partner Professor Keith Schwab (Caltech) we offer consolation services to bring together the scientific expertise in quantum technology with the commercial and industrial sector to help create an entirely new industry focused around quantum information and quantum technology. 

For more information, please visit http://www.h-bar.com.au/

About Entanglement Partners

Entanglement Partners is the first consulting company in Spain and Latin America whose business is focused in quantum technologies: Quantum Computing, Telecommunications, CyberseQurity, Simulation and Algorithms.

Entanglement Partners has been founded by a multidisciplinary team of business executives and internationally recognized scientific professionals who are specialized in quantum technologies.

The company develops its activity mainly in three areas: strategic technology consulting, distribution and deployment of quantum products, design of projects related to quantum telecommunications and technology.

Founded in 2016, it is headquartered in Barcelona with offices in Madrid (Spain), San José (California USA) and Kerala (India).

For more information, please visit http://www.entanglementpartners.com/


Professor Keith Schwab joins h-bar

Prof. Keith Schwab, from www.kschwabresearch.com

Prof. Keith Schwab, from www.kschwabresearch.com

We are delighted to announce that h-bar has a new partner.  Professor of Applied Physics, Keith Schwab of Caltech will be joining h-bar as a member of our consultancy team. Professor Schwab has a long and distinguished career in applied physics and quantum technology and his expertise will be invaluable to h-bar and our clients.

Professor Schwab received a BA in physics in 1990 from the University of Chicago and worked with Prof. Dick Packard at the University of California, Berkeley during his Ph.D, which was awarded in 1996.  After his Ph.D, Professor schwab spent the next four years at Caltech as the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Post Doctral Scholar.  

In 2000, Prof. Schwab joined the National Security Agency forming one of the first research groups investigating the applications of active quantum effects in technological devices, working on quantum metrology, quantum nano-mechanics and superconducting qubits.  

After he left the NSA in 2006, Prof. Schwab joined the faculty of Cornell University and in 2009 accepted the position of Associate Professor of applied physics at Caltech, where he is now currently a full professor of applied physics. 

Prof. Schwab is considered one of the worlds best experimental quantum physicists and one of the pioneers of quantum technology.  He has published numerous experimental papers in the most prestigious international journals, has given over 50 invited talks at international conferences and workshops and has extensive experience in academia, government and industry.

We are delighted for Prof. Schwab to be joining h-bar and expect his knowledge and expertise to help us deliver exceptional service and advice to our clients. 

For more information, please visit Prof. Schwabs website.

- Simon Devitt and Jared Cole, Founders of h-bar: Quantum Consultants

Blueprint for an ion-trap quantum computer

Science Advances, Vol. 3, no. 2, e1601540 (2017)

Today in the journal Science Advances, researchers from the ion trapping group of the University of Sussex in the U.K. Aarhus University in Denmark, Siegen University in Germany, Google Inc and Riken in Japan have proposed a fundamentally new architecture for an ion-trap quantum computer.  I was a part of this research and am very excited to work on a method for ion-trap quantum computing that can form the basis of a large-scale machine.  

Ion-trap quantum computers have been one of the leading technologies for large-scale quantum computing.  The underlying technology is very mature and was developed initially to be used as very accurate atomic clocks.  When quantum computing was initially developed in the 1980's and 1990's, ion traps were one of the first technologies to experimentally demonstrate individual quantum bits (qubits) and since then, technology development has been pronounced.  

In an ion-trap quantum computer, individual qubits are ionised atoms. Some systems use Calcium, some use Beryllium and some use Ytterbium.  As the atom is ionised (i.e. carries a net positive charge) it can be trapped by an electromagnetic field, holding it in place.  The ion qubit is then held in an electromagnetic field inside a ultra-high-vacuum container.  This vacuum is required to make sure that the ion is not knocked out of the trap due to collisions with other atoms flying around inside the system.  The qubit itself is defined by the quantum state of a single electron of the ion.  Two stable electronic states are chosen to represent the binary zero and one states and these states can be manipulated via lasers or by manipulating the magnetic field environment of the ion.  

Manipulation of a single ion qubit is now routine in laboratories around the world.  Injecting and trapping an ion, performing single qubit quantum gates and reading out individual qubits can be done with extremely low error rates, in multiple systems, and many small-scale tests and protocols have been demonstrated over the past decade and a half.  

Operations on multiple qubits are also possible through coupling ions through motional degrees of freedom between two (or more) trapped ions.  Because individual ions are positively charged, if they are placed in the same trap, they will experience a mutual repulsion due to their respective positive charges. This mutual repulsion changes slightly when the electronic configuration changes between each individual ion and hence can be used to enact quantum logic gates between two qubits.  Again, through careful control of the system, experimentalists have enacted logic operations between qubits and realised small-scale programmable ion-trap quantum computers.  

The question that physicists and engineers are now addressing is scalability, namely how do we increase the number of qubits in the system to enact complex and required error correction protocols and scale the system to sufficient size to perform quantum algorithms that cannot be realised on even the most powerful classical supercomputers?

An ion-trap X-junction, the building block of an ion trap quantum computer.  The gold coloured base plate consists of a series of electrodes that are used to manipulate the electromagnetic field used to trap individual ions.  This allows us to trap ions in separate regions of the machine to "load" ions (injecting qubits into the computer), measure the quantum state of ions and to entangle ions together (performing gate operations between two ions)

Scaling ion-trap computers to the level of millions (if not billions) of qubits requires very careful design.  Luckily, ion-trap computers have a rather unique property: qubits can be moved (shuttled) around, they are not fixed in place.  By manipulating electromagnetic fields that are used to trap individual ions, they can be moved and shuttled around the computer.  This allows us to trap ions separately and move them around to inject or "load" them into the computer, measure them in dedicated readout zones and to entangle them with other ions in the computer, fast and with very low error rate. 

X-junctions are fabricated together in a grid.  Each X-junction contains a single ion qubit that can be initialised, interacted with its four neighbours to the north, east, south and west and measured.  Repeating this structure allows for an arbitrarily large error-corrected quantum computer, capable of implementing any algorithm.

Even with the very low error rates that experimentalists can achieve with ion-trap technology, they are still not good enough for large-scale algorithms such as Shor's factoring algorithm or Grover's search algorithm.  Active error correction codes are still needed.  The ion-trap architecture is consequently designed around a class of topological error correction codes, known as surface codes.  Surface codes are a desirable method for large-scale, error-corrected quantum computers as they are amenable to system design and have very good performance.  Surface codes only require error rates for each physical operation in our computer to be below approximately 1% before they begin working effectively.  Error rates at 1% or lower are already experimentally achievable in ion-trap systems. 

In other designs for ion-trap computers, physicists have imagined building small mini-computers, each containing anywhere between 10-100 physical ion qubits.  These mini-computers would then be linked together with photons and optical fiber.  This would allow scale-up by connecting together separate and comparatively small ion-traps to form a larger computer.  unfortunately, the downside to this approach is that establishing an optical connection between separated ion-traps is both very slow and very noisy, two things that are detrimental to a functional and useful quantum computer.

In our approach, we decided that a monolithic design for an ion trap is better.  The X-junction shown above allows an individual ion to interact with its four neighbours, hence to scale the computer to arbitrary size, we just physically connect may X-junctions together and shuttle ion qubits between X-junctions to perform gates.

A module is a 36x36 array of X-junctions fabricated with necessary control electronics and mounted on a steel frame with piezo-actuators that allow for aligning modules together.  Each module houses 36 qubits in our quantum computer.

We define a module that consists of an array of 36x36 X-junctions, each junction containing a single qubit in our quantum computer.  This module contains all the control structures necessary to manipulate the qubits in the ion-trap.  Below the surface of the trap (where each individual qubit hovers about 100 micro-meters above the electrodes) there are layers of electronic control and cooling.  Finally, the module is fabricated to a set of piezo-actuators and then fabricated to a support frame.  The piezo-actuators are used such that two modules can be aligned together and ions transported across the junction between two modules.  Our analysis showed that provided each module was aligned to less than 10 micro-meters in either the x,y or z direction, we could still reliably shuttle ions between modules.

If this module can be built, scaling the quantum computer to arbitrary size simply requires fabricating more and more modules and connecting them together.  In this way, the ion-trap quantum computer can operate as fast as possible with very low error rates and does not require us to build and integrate in additional quantum technology such as photonic interconnects which have so far proven to be difficult to build reliably, with good performance.    

By connecting modules together we scan scale the computer to arbitrary size.  Shown is several connected vacuum systems containing approximately 2.2 million X-junctions.  This system would occupy the space of a mid-sized office and be able to run fully error corrected quantum algorithms.  The entire computer is housed in a ultra-high vacuum, to eliminate any stray atoms that could collide with ion qubits.

Scaling an ion-trap quantum computer will require some very high quality engineering.  Each module contains enough X-junctions to accomodate 36 ion qubits and occupies a physical space of 90mm x 90mm, this is a comparatively large footprint for a quantum computer.  We can envisage a much larger system, as illustrated, which contains 2.2 million X-junctions in a series of connected vacuum chambers (hence 2.2 million qubits).  The size of each chamber is 4.5m x 4.5m, about the size of a mid-sized office.  Additionally, the entire quantum computer must maintain an ultra-high vacuum inside for the length of time necessary to run a quantum algorithm (which may be anywhere from seconds to weeks).  

While the engineering challenges are significant, they are not impossible and much of the research in the ion-trap community is focused on these issues.  One significant adaptation that we made in this architecture is the elimination of a significant amount of laser control.  In more traditional ion-trap quantum computers, every operation on ion qubits (except for shuttling) is mediated by precisely focused laser beams.  For a system containing millions of qubits, the amount of laser control would be significant and potentially very costly to the design of a large-scale machine.  

We remove costly and difficult laser control for each ion qubit by a microwave pulse that is broadcast over the entire computer.  Ions that we wish to address with the pulse are "tuned in" via manipulating the local magnetic field environment with control wires embedded under the surface of the ion trap.

In 2016, the ion-trap group at Sussex University (who lead the work on this paper) demonstrated a new technique to control and manipulate ion qubits.  Instead of using tightly focused laser beams, the group use a microwave pulse that was broadcast over the entire ion-trap.  The ions that they wanted to react to this microwave pulse were "tuned in" via precise control of the magnetic field environment around a particular ion.  In this way you could use one microwave pulse to enact operations on large numbers of qubits simultaneously by tuning in the relevant qubits by changing local magnetic fields.  This eliminates the need to have selective laser control for every ion qubit in the machine.  Controlling the local magnetic field to each X-junction is performed with wires embedded underneath the surface of the ion-trap.  By controlling electrical current through these wires, we can alter the magnetic field near a particular ion and "tune them in" to global microwave control pulses applied over the entire computer. 

We believe that this model of an ion-trap quantum computer may be significantly easier to engineer and ultimately build than other designs.  Many of the components of this monolithic design have already been demonstrated experimentally and much of the challenge left is to put all these pieces together and to slowly scale the system to first 10's of qubits then to 100's, 1000's and hopefully millions in the not too distant future. 

The future of ion-trap quantum computing looks very bright and this technology is a direct competitor to superconducting quantum computing designs pioneered by places like IBM and Google.  Both technologies maturing at the same time gives us tremendous flexibility in how we adapt quantum computing technology to specific commercial tasks in this new and exciting technology sector.

- Simon Devitt, co-founder of h-bar quantum consultants.


Quantum technologies and the launch of h-bar quantum consultants

It is with great pleasure that I am writing the first blog post for the official launch of h-bar quantum consultants. h-bar aims to provide professional advice services to the burgeoning quantum technology industry. Liaising between academia, government and business to provide detailed and up-to-date advice on new technology with a very steep learning curve.

The translation of quantum technology from the laboratory to commercial devices promises to be one of the great challenges of 21st century science and engineering. The United Kingdom’s National Quantum Technologies Programme and the recent announcement by the European Commission of a €1 billion Quantum Technologies Flagship are both targeted specifically at developing commercial quantum technologies. Worldwide we also have large scale investment in quantum technology research by government agencies in the United States, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea and Australia. Despite all this public investment in quantum technology commercialisation, for many applications we are still at the very start of the long road from research and development to market. It is a very exciting time to be in the field.

So what is quantum technology? Quantum physics is often referred to as “modern” physics, yet the principle of quantised energy which underlies quantum mechanics was first discussed more than 100 years ago. Throughout the 20th century a range of new technologies have been developed which in some way rely on this fundamental understanding of the universe. The operation of transistors, LEDs, MRI machines, lasers and many more are understood using the principles of quantum mechanics. However, recently these technologies are increasingly referred to as “first generation” quantum technologies. 

This of course begs the question, what is a “second generation” quantum technology? An example of a useful definition is given by Georgescu and Nori - technologies harnessing quantum superposition, uncertainty or quantum correlations are “second-generation” quantum technologies. However, this is quite a technical definition which does’t help non-specialists understand what such a distinction means and why is it important to differentiate at all?

For me, a simpler definition is that second generation quantum technologies are those which require (or benefit from) control over the quantum mechanical wavefunction of a system. The wavefunction is a central concept from quantum theory. It provides a mathematical description of the state of a system, i.e. what is a quantum mechanical system doing right now? However, many of the counter-intuitive results of quantum mechanics that can be confusing at first sight come from the fact that measuring the wavefunction directly is particularly difficult. Rather we infer the value of the wavefunction from the probabilities of measurement outcomes. 

The reason that control (or lack thereof) of the wavefunction provides a good definition is that most first generation technologies can be understood using a mathematical theory based on the probabilities only. This is also why they have been quickly incorporated into existing technologies over the last 50 years. It is only in the last 10-20 years that we have developed the technology to control the wavefunction itself. With this enhanced control we have discovered a raft of new applications including quantum cryptography, quantum computing, quantum metrology and quantum sensing. These technologies promise to allow us to hide our data more completely, solve tough mathematical problems more efficiently and sense the world around us with higher precision than ever before. However, we are still just at the very beginning.

The late 19th century developments in electromagnetism lead to large-scale technology applications in radio and electronic engineering after the first world war. The discovery and harnessing of nuclear physics during the second world war lead to the field of nuclear engineering following declassification of the field in the 1950s and 60s. We are only now starting to see the first generation of “quantum engineers”.

So where does h-bar fit in with all of this? As quantum technology becomes more of a commercial reality, it will be essential to have good information flow between scientists, engineers, business and government. Here at h-bar, we provide this service, linking stake holders and helping translate between the very different wants and needs of the fledgling quantum technology industry. We provide frank and impartial advice on all aspects of quantum technologies. Having played our part in the development of these technologies, now we aim to shepherd them through to full commercial applications.

- Jared Cole, co-founder, h-bar quantum consultants