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Taiwan’s 5-Bit Superconducting Quantum Computer Goes Online

Academia Sinica has achieved a significant milestone in the field of computing with the successful development of a 5-bit superconducting quantum computer in Taiwan, marking a notable advancement in quantum technology. This accomplishment positions Taiwan as a key contributor to quantum computing research and development on the global stage.

In an interview with EE Times, Chii-Dong Chen, the principal investigator of Academia Sinica’s research team, emphasized the pivotal role of international collaboration in advancing Taiwan’s quantum technology research and development agenda.

Under the leadership of Chii-Dong Chen and with support from the National Science and Technology Council, Academia Sinica has demonstrated exceptional proficiency in pushing the boundaries of quantum computing technology. Through partnerships with various international teams, Taiwan has established academic collaborations to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best practices, as well as provide access to resources, expertise and funding opportunities essential for driving innovation in quantum technology.

“By leveraging the strengths of international partnerships, Taiwan can accelerate its progress in research, development and commercialization of quantum technologies—ultimately contributing to its competitiveness and leadership in this transformative area of science and technology,” Chen said. “We are among the 17 teams recognized by the National Science and Technology Council to undertake quantum research across various areas, including universal quantum computing, quantum optics, software and applications. This initiative establishes a robust platform for collaboration.”

He added, “We are currently in the initial phases of building a prototype superconducting quantum computer, a project poised to advance the entire quantum computing community in Taiwan. This system functions as a testing platform for different sectors to refine software stacks and subsystem electronics with the intention of closing the gap between foundational research and real-world applications.”

                                                        Chii-Dong Chen (left) and lab tech (right). (Source: Academia Sinica)

Quantum computing

Quantum computers, with their unparalleled computing potential, have long been heralded as the next frontier in computational technology, promising to revolutionize fields ranging from cryptography to drug discovery. Unlike classical computers that rely on bits to process information in binary form (0s and 1s), quantum computers leverage quantum bits—or qubits—which can exist in multiple states simultaneously due to the principles of quantum mechanics. This inherent parallelism enables quantum computers to perform complex calculations at an exponential speed, surpassing the capabilities of even the most powerful classical supercomputers.

The journey towards achieving a functional quantum computer has been fraught with challenges, requiring breakthroughs in quantum chip manufacturing, control and measurement.

One of the key achievements of Academia Sinica’s quantum computer is its high-fidelity qubit logic gate, reaching an impressive accuracy of 99.9%. This accomplishment emphasizes the accuracy and dependability of the Academia Sinica-developed quantum computing system, laying a strong foundation for upcoming developments in quantum computing applications.

“Even with the achievement of a 5-qubit superconducting quantum computer, we recognize the array of challenges ahead, mirroring those encountered by previous teams. Therefore, our main priority will be directed towards hardware development, with the aim of bringing high-performance chips and measurement systems to fruition,” Chen siad.

Despite the remarkable progress in quantum computing technology, the transition towards practical applications for everyday use remains a distant goal. Nevertheless, Academia Sinica’s 5-bit superconducting quantum computer serves as a vital research and development platform, facilitating collaborative efforts with project partners to explore the potential applications of quantum computing across various domains.

Even though the first 5Q chip came out in the middle of 2010, Taiwan might seem late to the party. While new research teams are still joining the quantum community and making new systems, at Academia Sinica, we’re working on improving how computers perform, starting with the 5-qubit system. Instead of competing with other quantum computing systems, we want to lay the groundwork for Taiwan’s future in quantum technology.

Academia Sinica’s focus lies in fostering international collaborations to propel quantum research forward, such as at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This collaborative effort underscores the global significance of quantum computing research and the collective endeavor to unlock its transformative potential.

According to Chen, to nurture talent and cultivate expertise in core quantum technologies within Taiwan’s quantum ecosystem, Academia Sinica is implementing specific measures. One notable initiative is the utilization of their superconducting quantum computer as a foundational tool. This quantum computer serves as a bridge between theoretical understanding and practical application, facilitating deeper exploration into design, fabrication and measurement technologies essential for quantum research. By opening this resource to researchers and engineers from both academic and industrial backgrounds, Academia Sinica aims to accelerate skill development and knowledge dissemination within the quantum community.