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Honeywell and Cambridge Quantum in real-time error correction first

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Cambridge Quantum has been instrumental in assisting Honeywell researchers achieve a new quantum first – quantum error correction (QEC), repeatedly and in real-time, while quantum calculations are being conducted.

Ilyas Khan, CEO and founder, Cambridge Quantum
Ilyas Khan, CEO and founder, Cambridge Quantum

Honey announced its commercial quantum computers division, Honeywell Quantum Solutions, in March 2020. In June this year, Honeywell and Cambridge Quantum announced a partnership to form the world’s largest, stand-alone quantum computing company (subject to regulatory review). The two companies have been working together to develop quantum-enabled solutions to address optimisation, scheduling, and other enterprise-level challenges.

Now, for the first time, researchers at Honeywell Quantum Solutions demonstrated repeated rounds of real-time QEC, an advancement that represents a significant step toward the realisation of large-scale quantum computing. The company also achieved a quantum volume of 1,024, doubling its own record from just four months ago. The collaboration is speeding up the convergence, accuracy, and scalability of quantum algorithms for combinatorial optimisation problems including supply chain challenges in manufacturing or route optimisation scenarios in logistics.

Speaking of the advancement – a significant step toward the realisation of large-scale quantum computing – Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions, said: “Big enterprise-level problems require precision and error-corrected logical qubits to scale successfully. These technical milestones of quantum error correction and quantum volume, together with advanced software from Cambridge Quantum, will allow us to increase the viability of quantum computing in the real world.”

The new quantum algorithm illustrates the combined impact of Honeywell and Cambridge Quantum and the type of quantum-enabled solutions to expect from the new company. Cambridge Quantum’s quantum algorithm uses fewer qubits to solve optimisation problems, and detects and corrects both phase-flip and bit-flip errors as calculations are running.

Cambridge Quantum’s new methods accelerate convergence by a factor of 100, improve the solution quality and reduce hardware resource requirements. These new methods were tested using the Honeywell System Model H1, Honeywell’s latest commercial offering.

A quantum dot. Picture: University of Cambridge
A quantum dot. Picture: University of Cambridge

“Faster quantum algorithms can have a profound impact on a variety of industries that face complicated optimisation problems,” said Ilyas Khan, CEO and founder of Cambridge Quantum. “Take, for example, a steel manufacturer which produces a variety of products. To manufacture all products on-time at minimal cost requires complex scheduling of several production processes.

“By optimising these processes, companies – and, ultimately, their customers and consumers in general – can see the positive effects. Honeywell and Cambridge Quantum are making it easier for businesses to do their jobs well and effectively.”

The breakthrough is another example of progress this year on quantum computers. In February Cambridge Quantum said it is working with Roche to design and progress drugs to slow and eventually reverse Alzheimer’s. In June Cambridge-based Riverlane and Seedqc announced a quantum operating system has been designed into a conventional silicon chip. In addition, Japan last month launched its first commercial-use quantum computer – a partnership between the University of Tokyo and IBM – which is the second of its kind that IBM has built outside the US, after one unveiled in Germany this year.

Meanwhile, last week researchers at Google, in collaboration with physicists at Stanford, Princeton and other universities, say they have used Google’s quantum computer to demonstrate a genuine “time crystal”. The discovery could recalibrate some fundamental scientific pillars, specifically the second law of thermodynamics, which asserts that a natural process runs only in one sense, and is not reversible. The discrete time crystal (DTC) is a recently discovered phase of matter that spontaneously breaks time-translation symmetry – its parts move in a regular repeating cycle without burning any energy. A novel quantum simulation platform based on individually controllable nuclear spins in diamond can observe the hallmark signatures of a many-body-localised DTC.

“Disorder-induced many-body-localisation is required to stabilise a DTC to arbitrary times, yet an experimental investigation of this localised regime has [hitherto] proven elusive,” say the authors.

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