IonQ announced its intention to use barium in its upcoming quantum computers to achieve a number of advantages over current devices, such as greater scalability, greater computing power, greater interconnect capacity, and greater availablity.
IonQ changes element: the next quantum computers will use barium
IonQ builds its quantum computers using well-known devices: the ion traps. The basic principle is to trap atoms with a positive or negative charge, called ions, inside a magnetic field; once trapped, the ions can be monitored using special light signals. One of the advantages of this approach is the extreme stability it achieves, especially when compared to superconducting devices such as IBM’s quantum computers, which in turn leads to better fidelity, i.e. say at a lower error rate.
So far, IonQ has used ions ytterbium, a metal of the lanthanide series, inside its quantum computers. However, the company has announced that in the future it will switch to barium due to the superior properties exhibited by this element.
IonQ does indeed mention what benefits barium has lower error rategreater fidelity gate and improved status tracking, as well as a easier construction of devices. Qubits constructed with barium can, indeed, be controlled with the visible light, rather than with ultraviolet, which has significant advantages both in terms of the power supply and the reliability of the devices that act as a source. Finally, barium ions, which are easier to control, also facilitate the combination of different quantum processors.
This novelty is in addition to those announced in recent months by IonQ, such as the use of evaporated glass ion traps. The company says the changes should lead to more computing power overall, as well as more availability of quantum computers to be able to perform more calculations.
“We believe that adding barium qubits to IonQ’s systems opens up incredible technical opportunities to make our systems more scalable, more reliable, and easier to build.”says Jungsang Kim, co-founder and CTO of IonQ. “By exploiting the inherent advantages of barium qubits, we intend to exploit [le loro] new capabilities to build advanced quantum computers that we believe will be relevant to solving critical societal problems.”