Quantum computer might change the world in the next five years
Your experience with computers will never be the same
Nowadays, the use of a quantum computer remains, almost, as an exclusive practice of technological research laboratories, but according to IBM, in five years this technology will be mainstream because it will be more accessible to professionals from different areas and developers all around the world. This will provide the possibility to solve complex problems that current computers are not able to do.
Surely the quantum will be a subject of recurrent study in the classrooms of universities and high schools very soon, but the fact is that many of us still do not know what this technology is about and why it´s so exciting for the scientific community.
Let's see what are the basics of this technology are and what we can expect from it in our lives soon.
What is a quantum?
A quantum is the smallest amount of energy that can be transmitted at any wavelength to move from one discrete state to another.
The German physicist Max Planck, creator of quantum theory, explained that electromagnetic radiation is emitted in discrete units of energy called quantum, or quants.
For classical physics, an oscillator of a particular frequency could produce any part of its total amount of energy regardless of its value. The quantum or radiation units are so small that the radiation seems to be continuous to the human eye.
How does a quantum computer work?
A quantum computer differs from an ordinary computer by the use of qubits (quantum bits) transmitted through superconductors.
We are used to computers that work using bits with a value of 1 or 0. A quantum computer uses qubits that, unlike bits, can exist simultaneously in both states (1 and 0). Computing like this considerably increases the complexity of calculations.
However, this characteristic makes the qubits very sensitive to any change due to external factors, primarily by temperature. This problem is what keeps scientists trying to develop the right technology to stabilize the operation of qubits in quantum computers.
Why is cooling so important in a quantum computer?
As we already mentioned, cubits are very sensitive to temperature. Even when they are in a freezing environment, any minimum thermal variation can heat them immediately. For this reason, they need unique isolation that protects them from the environmental conditions to prevent errors during the computing.
Recently, a group of researchers from Aalto University seem to have solved the problem that kept scientists on their toes: maintaining the thermal stability of the qubit through a nanometer-scale quantum-circuit refrigerator.
To perform the cooling, the circuit releases electrons against the qubit. Then, the qubit reacts by hitting the electrons, and this action releases enough energy in the qubit to cool it down.
In this way, the qubit can start doing the computation without thermal alterations that make it fail. This technology is still being tested but is one of the most promising for quantum computing.
What are the expectations of quantum computing in the short term?
The technology of quantum computers is getting closer for us to use in our daily lives. Returning to the predictions launched by IBM scientists at its annual "Think 2018" event, the five technological innovations that will revolutionize computing within five years are:
BeH2 is a complex molecule that was simulated in a computer for the first time thanks to quantum technology.
1.Due to the successful simulation of atomic fusion in beryllium hydride (BeH2) achieved in a quantum computer, the possibilities for faster development of this technology increase.
This means that within five years, quantum computers will be able to solve much more complex problems than we ever imagined possible.
2. Cryptographic anchors as small as a grain of salt will be designed to work into electronic devices of daily use.
By using these anchors in conjunction with the blockchain's distributed ledger technology you can ensure the authenticity of the objects from the time they are produced until they reach the customer's hands.
For example, you can verify immediately if a product is fake or not, which will significantly reduce piracy and scams around the world.
3.Thanks to a novel post-quantum encryption method developed by IBM, also called "lattice cryptography", it will be harder for hackers to make intrusions and steal information. Researchers believe that this encryption is very difficult to decode even by future quantum computers.
4. Another innovation has to do with helping the environment through the care of the oceans. Thanks to the use of robotic microscopes made of artificial intelligence, the water conditions can be trackable through the movement of the plankton in 3D. This will also help combat oil spills, red tides, and any risk of pollution at sea.
5. Thanks to the quantum computer, many algorithms and artificial intelligence systems will improve their discernment and avoid prejudices. Artificial intelligence will have a new way of interpreting the world with objective information, reducing subjectivity of the processed information to almost zero.
The race to lead the Quantum Supremacy
The race to control the future market of quantum computers is intensifying the technological war between giants like IBM, Microsoft, and Google. Each one has made significant advances in the development of quantum technology.
For example, in Microsoft laboratories, researchers have managed to create Majorana fermions, an elementary particle that has its own anti-particle.
A small cable drives the particle using integrated semiconductors and superconductors. In theory, using Majorana fermion in a quantum computer could reduce the rate of computational errors significantly. The next step for Microsoft is to learn how to control these particles to create qubits.
On the other hand, Google is betting to be at the head of the "quantum supremacy" by creating a quantum computer that is capable of solving any problem that the most advanced computers in the world (not quantum) cannot.
To reach that dream goal, Google has announced the creation of a 72-qubit computer called Bristlecone, considered the biggest quantum computer nowadays.
Google thinks that its new equipment will have the capacity to surpass any other quantum device for its large number of qubits. However, some detractors believe that the number of qubits does not matter when they are not good quality.
On the other hand, IBM has created the Q Network, a network of academic institutions, companies and research labs working together to explore the practical applications of quantum computing in business and science.
IBM has decided to combine in Q Network access, expertise and collaboration of all participants in the project to obtain more enriching results.
One of IBM's goals for the next three years is to create the first practical application derived from quantum technology.
Currently, the company offers IBM Q experience to all developers interested in the project. This platform is in hosted in the cloud and provides user guides, interactive demos, and educational material to understand the principles of quantum.
You can also access to run and create algorithms using the hardware of a real quantum computer through the Quantum Composer and QISKit software developer kit.