SD Startup Introduces Qubit-Generating Device for Quantum Computing

5/22/14Follow @bvbigelow

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one qubit without simultaneously affecting its twin—a quantum effect that Albert Einstein described as “spooky action at a distance”—qubits can be used to create tamper-proof encryption keys.

In coming years, Qubitekk plans to commercialize the technology needed to create large-scale quantum encryption networks that financial institutions, transportation providers, telecommunications companies, retailers, military, and others can use to secure their data and IT systems.

But as BBC science editor Paul Rincon recently reported, “Scientists have struggled to entangle more than a handful of qubits, and to maintain them in their quantum state. Lab devices suffer from drop-out, where the qubits lose their ambiguity and become straightforward 1s and 0s.”

Qubitekk’s shoebox-size device uses a blue laser focused on an advanced crystal, producing one pair of entangled red photons for every 1 billion blue photons, according to chief technology officer Duncan Earl, who worked previously at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. That might not seem very efficient, but Earl says the device, called a quantum entanglement source, can generate 10,000 entangled pairs a second.

Qubitekk, GridCOM, Quantum Physics, Quantum Entanglement, Qubit

Duncan Earl

Amid recent breaches of major retailers and revelations about mass surveillance, Earl said, “Quantum cryptography is our best weapon against these growing threats. A priority must be placed on developing these solutions before it is too late.”

In a recent statement, Qubitekk says its device “simplifies and drastically reduces the cost of generating and controlling quantum bits, or qubits, the life-blood of powerful universal quantum computers.” The company says its device also can be assembled in arrays, making it possible to develop larger and more powerful quantum computing architectures.

D-Wave, a Canadian startup near Vancouver, BC, with funding from Google, NASA, Lockheed Martin, and In-Q-Tel (the nonprofit venture capital arm of the CIA), says it has developed the world’s first commercially available quantum computer. In order to obtain quantum effects, liquid helium is used to cool the chip to 0.02 Kelvin, a shade above the temperature known as absolute zero.

“There is a huge effort across the world to build one of these quantum computers, but unfortunately not so much in the United States,” Earl said. “The Chinese are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on research and development.”

Qubitekk is offering its device to academic research labs and others working at the frontier of quantum computing. The pricetag ranges from about $18,000 to $87,000, depending on the capabilities, Earl said.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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