IBM researchers say quantum computing is beginning to live up to its promise as an important scientific research tool. The US tech group wants to dispel fears that this technology won’t meet the high expectations for it.
Dario Gil announced that the company will reveal 10 projects on Monday, showing the strength of combining quantum calculations with traditional techniques such as conventional supercomputing.
Gil expressed in an interview that we finally have sufficiently large and capable systems to perform valuable scientific and technical work.
On Monday, there were papers presented that resulted from collaboration between IBM, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and other partners. These partners include the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Tokyo, and the University of California. The papers focus on solving problems in chemistry, materials science and quantum physics.
Quantum technology received significant investments in recent years, as it was anticipated to soon have practical applications.There are concerns about a “quantum winter” due to the lack of investor and financial support, indicating that commercial applications are still far away.
IBM’s announcements show that the technology’s main applications have not yet been fully used in a wide range of commercial computing functions that many in the industry want.
Jay Gambetta mentioned that there will be a delay before the scientific benefits of quantum technology are translated into practical business benefits. But I think the gap between research and commercialisation has become smaller.”
IBM researchers stated that recent advancements had strengthened their confidence in Quantum Computing’s long-term potential. However, they did not make any predictions about when this technology would be commercially mainstream. They have instead laid out a 10-year timetable to reach far more capable “error-corrected systems”.
Quantum computing uses the properties of subatomic particles that allow them to exist in multiple states simultaneously. Quantum machines can perform many calculations at once, and solve problems that are beyond the capabilities of conventional computers. The qubits that are the basis of these systems are unstable, and can only maintain their quantum state for very short times, which introduces errors or “noise” into calculations.
IBM announced the end of the first phase of development for its systems, which focused on scientific applications. This phase lasted for seven years. It involved connecting enough qubits to perform calculations, figuring out how to control them enough to be in a position to measure their states and developing the first algorithm.
Theoretically, quantum computers are well-suited to model the subatomic behavior of substances. This suggests that quantum computers could be used to find novel materials, solve energy problems and discover new pharmaceuticals.
IBM researchers are also using quantum systems to solve so-called optimization problems and find correlations within large data sets. This could improve business processes.
Gil stated that despite the lack of progress in commercial applications for the technology, companies using IBM’s systems as part their research and development are continuing to “invest around the cycles”.
We continue to see an industrial base investing in technology.