Physicists at Google have achieved a milestone they describe as the second major stage in their journey to create a functionally useful quantum computer. In a laboratory in Santa Barbara, California, these researchers have shown that they can reduce the error rate of calculations by enlarging their quantum code.
This feat, whose paper was published in the journal Nature, comes as a continuation of a famous and celebrated experiment in 2019, in which Google’s quantum computer was able to achieve what is known as “quantum supremacy”, by performing a calculation that would have taken thousands of years if it had been performed on humans. normal computer
Correcting errors is an imperative for quantum computers to succeed in their promised purpose, which is to solve problems that are beyond the capabilities of classical computers, such as factoring large integers from prime numbers, or understanding the behavior of chemical catalysts in detail.
“Google’s achievement is impressive,” says Barbara Trehal, a professor of theoretical physics who specializes in correcting quantum errors at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Because achieving better performance with large code is very difficult.”
However, Google researchers concede that the improvement is still small, and that the error rate should decrease by much more. Hartmut Niven, who oversees the quantum computing division at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, said at a news conference. The error is a small percentage, and we need to reduce it by a large amount.
All computers are subject to errors. A regular computer chip stores information as bits (it can stand for either 0 or 1), and copies some information as extra bits, called “error-correcting” bits, and when something goes wrong because some stray electrons cross For an incomplete barrier, for example, or because a particle of cosmic rays causes a disturbance in the circuit of the chip, the chip can detect the problem and solve it automatically.
It is noteworthy that Google has developed a road map for itself in the field of quantum computing, which includes six main stages. A million, which encodes a thousand logical quantum bits.
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