SQMS Center

Quantum computing technology and applications

The Center’s ambitious goals

One of the SQMS Center’s ambitious goals is to build the first quantum computer at Fermilab. With unprecedented coherence time and all-to-all qubit connectivity, this machine will be beyond state of the art.

Particle accelerator technology to advance QIS

One of the Center’s main strengths comes from Fermilab’s expertise in developing and building complex particle accelerators based on technologies such as superconducting radio-frequency devices and cryogenics, as well as the world-leading coherence times already achieved in superconducting cavities. The SQMS Center will leverage this expertise and that of its partners to engineer multiqubit quantum processors based on state-of-the-art qubits and related superconducting technologies.

SQMS researchers will focus on the technological challenges of both 2-D (planar transmon qubits) and 3-D (superconducting radio-frequency cavities) superconducting devices and their related quantum computing and sensing schemes. These devices are already a technical reality.

Researchers expect to achieve at least an order-of-magnitude improvement in current device coherence times in the quantum regime, which corresponds to a goal of up to tens of seconds in superconducting cavities and up to milliseconds in superconducting 2-D transmons.

Increased coherence time allows researchers to perform a greater number of operations, called the depth. It also affects the error rate, or fidelity. In fact, each qubit operation, called time step or gate, takes some time to perform. The Center plans to achieve high-depth, high-fidelity circuits in quantum computing.

At the same time, researchers will pursue device integration and quantum controls development for 2-D and 3-D superconducting architecture. They will ultimately build quantum computer prototypes based on the two architectures.

Center researchers also plan to design, build and deploy a two-meter-wide dilution fridge to host both the 2-D and 3-D quantum processors and a large number of qubits. The largest in the world, the fridge will enable hosting thousands of qubits, thanks to its record volume at millikelvin and cooling power.

In quantum communication, the SQMS Center will deploy high-coherence devices with seconds of coherence time for microwave photons. This advance enables the development of quantum memories, a key component of short- and long-range quantum communication systems. SQMS researchers plan to demonstrate microwave-to-microwave transfer of entangled states between 3-D quantum systems.

An above view of Colossus. Colossus is enclosed in yellow railings.

Theory and algorithms at SQMS

One SQMS approach is to combine theoretical exploration with practical experimental research.

The Center brings experts from theory and experiment together to tackle problems that neither group can achieve independently. These efforts include designing better qubits and cavities with better coherence times and fewer errors, simulating quantum mechanics like spin systems, lattices and quantum chromodynamics, providing guidance and theory support to experimenters, and implementing more efficient control on platforms based in SRF technology.

SQMS researchers are designing algorithms on platforms that are suitable for high-energy physics experiments, rather than just “concept designs.” Meanwhile, researchers from the hardware and application side tailor the hardware to the specific problems the Center is working to solve.

Quantum solutions for real-world challenges

Classical computers are great at solving many problems. However, they have an intrinsic speed limit for performing calculations and are limited by their memory capacity.

The theory and algorithms work at SQMS is not just tied to fundamental physics; it also supports eventual utilization of quantum computers in practical and industrial applications. The work conducted within the quantum algorithms thrust supports fundamental physics research while simultaneously exploring potential future uses of quantum computers that are currently unknown.

Researchers are creating algorithms and software that future SQMS quantum computers will perform, with the goal of achieving quantum advantage.

Quantum algorithms involve finding combinations, searching databases, directly simulating quantum mechanics, factorizing numbers, and optimizing systems. A concrete example of a type of problem that a quantum computer can solve is traveling through a maze to find an exit. This maze problem is related to solving combination-type problems. A classical computer will go through different paths sequentially using trial-and-error, which can be difficult or impossible to do if the maze is too big. A quantum computer, on the other hand, would explore many paths simultaneously until it finds the correct exit.

A powerful, highly developed quantum computer would excel at solving certain computational problems that could take longer than the lifespan of the universe for a classical computer to perform. In practical terms, quantum computing power could provide future scientists with the tools to accurately predict extreme weather events, develop more effective vaccines and medications, design superior cybersecurity systems, improve financial risk analysis systems, and much more.