Google’s quantum computing team has achieved a significant breakthrough, demonstrating the possibility of reducing errors by increasing the number of qubits. The milestone achievement represents a significant shift in the operation of quantum computers. Instead of working on individual physical qubits, the team treated a group of them as one logical qubit, allowing a logical qubit made from 49 physical qubits to outperform one made from 17 qubits.
In quantum computing, a qubit is a unit of quantum information that can take on richer states that extend beyond just 0 and 1. However, qubits are sensitive, and even stray light can cause calculation errors. The problem worsens as quantum computers grow, making quantum error correction crucial. Quantum error correction protects information by encoding it across multiple physical qubits to form a logical qubit, believed to be the only way to produce a large-scale quantum computer with low enough error rates for useful calculations.
The team’s achievement in scaling a logical qubit represents a significant milestone in quantum computing, making quantum applications meaningful for human progress. In the future, quantum computers will be used to identify molecules for new medicines, create fertilizer using less energy, design more efficient sustainable technologies from batteries to nuclear fusion reactors, and produce physics research that will lead to advances that we can’t yet imagine.
However, the team acknowledges that much work remains to be done, and several components of the technology need to be improved, from cryogenics to control electronics to the design and materials of qubits. The long road ahead to scale to thousands of logical qubits with low error rates will require even more technical milestones, but Google’s team is optimistic.
Google is committed to making quantum hardware, tools, and applications available to customers and partners, including through Google Cloud, to harness the power of quantum in new and exciting ways. The company is also working to develop quantum computing responsibly, given its powerful potential. Google’s partnerships with governments and the security community are creating systems that can protect internet traffic from future quantum computer attacks, ensuring that services like Google Cloud, Android, and Chrome remain safe and secure in a quantum future.
The achievement by Google’s quantum computing team is an important step forward in quantum computing and has the potential to bring tangible benefits to the lives of millions. The long road ahead will require continued commitment and investment in research, but it promises to expand the boundaries of human knowledge and help us find solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems.