Scalable Qubit Arrays for Quantum Computing and Optimisation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Physics


Quantum mechanics provides a transformative approach to computing that is able to deliver computational performance surpassing the capability of modern digital hardware with as few as a hundred low-noise qubits. Quantum computers therefore offer a wide economic impact through access to disruptive new solutions to problems in both academia and industry, such as quantum chemistry for enhanced drug design or modelling of correlated media for designing new materials for aerospace and engineering. Quantum computation can also provide a dramatic speed-up of computationally expensive problems ranging from classical optimisation relevant to logistics (e.g. travelling salesman type problems) and financial services sectors or security and defence (e.g. factorisation). A major barrier to realising the benefits of quantum computation is developing a system with a large number of low-noise qubits.

This Prosperity Partnership exploits a unique opportunity to combine the capabilities in advanced laser systems and quantum system integration of M Squared Lasers with the cold-atom and quantum algorithm expertise at the University of Strathclyde. Our vision is to develop SQuAre (Scalable Qubit Arrays) - a promising architecture for quantum computation and optimisation based on reconfigurable arrays of neutral atoms that is able to overcome the limitations in scaling of existing qubit architectures. This approach offers a highly competitive route to scalable quantum computation with large numbers of identical qubits capable of performing high-quality quantum gates, as demonstrated in recent experimental breakthroughs.

Our Partnership combines the critical skills and knowledge that are integral to development of this new architecture. Together, we will

- build a versatile platform for neutral atom quantum computing using scalable arrays of up to 100 qubits;
- develop new algorithms and applications that solve industrially-relevant computation and optimisation problems through working directly with academic and industrial end-users;
- create a software architecture to provide an accessible interface to programming the quantum hardware abstracted from the technical implementation;
- perform characterisation and benchmarking of algorithms on our hardware to demonstrate a near-term practical advantage of quantum computation.

The proposed research program will address important open questions relating to whether the quantum advantage for optimisation problems is preserved as the system scales, and how qubit imperfections affect the ability to obtain the ideal solutions. Early benefits of the Partnership will see development of new advanced laser systems and experiment control hardware that will establish the required supply chain technologies to underpin future scaling and commercialisation of the SQuAre platform to reach 1000 qubits within 10 years.

This Prosperity Partnership has a strong foundation in the existing strategic relationship between M Squared Lasers and the University of Strathclyde with a track record in developing and commercialising novel quantum and photonics technologies. The Prosperity Partnership will transform our collaboration from globally competitive to internationally leading, placing the UK at the forefront of the rapidly growing field of neutral atom quantum computation in terms of academic leadership, validation of algorithms in real-life applications and commercial availability of quantum computing systems and components.

Planned Impact

The Prosperity Partnership (PP) will create impact in each of the following categories:

1. Knowledge

The proposed programme will generate the new knowledge required to realise a new scalable platform for quantum computation by: (i) Advancing the academic field by addressing important questions regarding scalability and performance of large-scale quantum computation; (ii) Identifying new algorithms and applications of quantum computation directly relevant to academia and industry; (iii) Demonstrating the SQuAre architecture with 100 qubits to establish the route to creating commercial quantum computation platforms with 1000s of qubits; (iv) Creating an environment where co-location of research and innovation activities will drive knowledge transfer and accelerated transition to market.

2. Economic Impact

Early economic benefits of the Prosperity Partnership will be derived from collaborative development of new advanced laser systems and experiment control hardware optimised for high-fidelity quantum gate operations. This will extend M Squared Lasers' existing product portfolio and capitalise on their position as global market leaders in supplying photonics hardware to both academic and industrial quantum computing activities. Sales are forecast to grow to £50m by 2025, with new systems relevant not only to neutral atom quantum computing but the wider quantum technologies sector including atomic clocks, gravimeters and sensors.
Significant and sustained long-term economic impact will arise from the development of commercial quantum computers based on the SQuAre architecture. In addition to boosting growth of M Squared Lasers as an internationally leading supplier of quantum computing hardware and components, this new technology will enable disruptive and transformative solutions impacting major high-value industrial sectors including energy, security and defence, financial services and pharmaceuticals. Here SQuAre offers a quantum speed up in common computationally demanding optimisation tasks and is able to solve problems not accessible on even the largest available conventional supercomputers.

3. Society

Quantum computers offer a new paradigm in which to solve computationally hard problems including optimization problems such as scheduling and logistics, managing financial portfolios, modelling turbulent fluid dynamics and designing drugs. This Proposal provides the first step towards these transformative benefits leading to wider societal impact through, for example, improvements in energy distribution, development of novel materials and advances in healthcare. As the technologies developed within the project are progressed to higher technology readiness level, we anticipate a positive social impact in terms of establishing a new industrial sector with job creation forecast at 30 positions created in MSL alone and up to 100 in the supply chain and at end-users e.g. in finance.

4. People

The Prosperity Partnership will provide direct impact to researchers at all career levels. PDRAs will receive excellent training through delivery of the primary project goals, supported by a cohort of PhD students working in a unique and interdisciplinary environment at the cutting edge of experimental physics, quantum software and algorithms and industrial innovation. These graduates will provide the future quantum scientists and engineers required to address the skills gap of the emerging international Quantum Technology programmes as required to realise future economic impact and drive growth.


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Flannigan S (2022) Propagation of errors and quantitative quantum simulation with quantum advantage in Quantum Science and Technology

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Pelegrí G (2022) High-fidelity multiqubit Rydberg gates via two-photon adiabatic rapid passage in Quantum Science and Technology

Description In the initial stages of this project we have established the UKs first scalable platform for quantum computing based on arrays in individually trapped neutral atoms.

Alongside building experimental hardware we have developed a quantum software architecture for efficient simulation and optimisation of gates and algorithms on neutral atom systems.
Exploitation Route This work is being commercially exploited by our industrial partners M Squared Lasers
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Financial Services, and Management Consultancy

Description Initial results of the SQuAre project are being exploited by MSquared Lasers through Discovery, an IUK project to develop commercial neutral atom quantum computing in the UK and establish key supply chain components. This has involved development of new products and laser systems, as well as enabling a second version of the SQuAre hardware to be established within an industrial setting, creating two platforms with over 100 individual neutral atom qubits.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Other
Impact Types Economic

Description DISCOVERY: Developing UK Industrial Supply for Commercial Quantum Computing
Amount £7,160,242 (GBP)
Funding ID 50133 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2020 
End 07/2023