Traditional computers are about zeros and ones, the binary bits that store information. Quantum computers, on the other hand, use quantum bits, or qubits. Qubits store data in a state of superposition, meaning they can be zero, one, or a hybrid of both at the same time (thanks to the nature of quantum physics). Since each individual qubit can occupy a continuum of states representing an infinite number of values, a qubit possesses the powerful capability of processing information in parallel.
Now, what enables efficient qubit/system scaling? Quantum computing components typically operate at cryogenic temperatures—that’s in the neighborhood of zero Kelvin (-273.15 °C). However, it’s challenging to find control circuitry that can run at such extremely cold temperatures. In current architectures, the control circuitry is located remotely from the qubit, with bulky and costly cabling providing the connectivity. This arrangement protects the circuitry from the cryogenic temperatures. However, the amount of cabling needed for the qubits hampers scaling, not to mention latency.
What’s needed to break through the barriers created by this extreme temperature challenge?
If the control electronics could somehow be co-located with the qubits in the cryostat, the device that maintains these ultra-low temperatures, that could be a solution. But since there’s very limited real estate in the cryostat, the control circuitry would have to be miniaturized for this approach to be feasible. What’s more, today’s semiconductors are only qualified to work down to -40° C.