Just four months back, a team of Chinese researchers have demonstrated that with 66-qubit quantum computing speed they built the world’s most powerful quantum computer named 'Zuchongzhi'. Now in a latest a team of physicists from the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms and other universities has developed a special type of quantum computer known as a programmable quantum simulator capable of operating with 256 quantum bits, or "qubits" -- largest of its kind ever created.

Notably, the system made is an experimental quantum simulator and not an actual working quantum computer but a simulator that has allowed researchers to observe several exotic quantum states of matter that had never before been realized experimentally, and to perform a quantum phase transition study so precise that it serves as the textbook example of how magnetism works at the quantum level. 

Technically speaking, the researchers have realized a quantum spin model with tunable interactions for system sizes ranging from 64 to 256 qubits.

Dolev Bluvstein (from left), Mikhail Lukin, and Sepehr Ebadi developed a special type of quantum computer known as a programmable quantum simulator. Ebadi is aligning the device that allows them to create the programmable optical tweezers.  (Credit: Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer)

The workhorse of this new platform is a device called the spatial light modulator, which is used to shape an optical wavefront to produce hundreds of individually focused optical tweezer beams. These devices are essentially the same as what is used inside a computer projector to display images on a screen, but we have adapted them to be a critical component of our quantum simulator.

With this done, a major step toward building large-scale quantum machines that could be used to shed light on a host of complex quantum processes and eventually help bring about real-world breakthroughs in material science, communication technologies, finance, and many other fields, overcoming research hurdles that are beyond the capabilities of even the fastest supercomputers today. 

According to Sepehr Ebadi, a physics student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the lead author of the an the study published in July in the journal Nature, said -

The number of quantum states that are possible with only 256 qubits exceeds the number of atoms in the solar system

SOURCE - The Harvard Gazette


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