Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Quantum computer is real and it is getting cheaper and cheaper.
Original author and publication date: Alyssa Hurst – October 24, 2019
Summary: Mark Siemens’ adventurous research earns him $1 million grant
Computing giants like Google and Microsoft employ hundreds of scientists and spend millions of dollars trying to better understand and utilize quantum physics for next-generation computing. Yet, Mark Siemens, associate professor in the University of Denver’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, threatens to render those operations obsolete with the help of your average, everyday laser pointer.
Siemens’ research focuses on the humble laser beam’s application as a tool for quantum physics. By his own estimation, it explores a completely novel route toward quantum computing, making it a little adventurous, definitely ambitious and full of uncertainty. That’s exactly what caught the attention of the W.M. Keck Foundation, which recently awarded Siemens a $1 million grant.
Along with Mark Lusk, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines, Siemens and his research team will use lasers to make the elusive field of quantum computing more accessible.
So the lasers can help you do quantum computing more efficiently?
[Usually quantum researchers use] a chamber that’s the size of this room and costs a billion dollars, and everything is held in this little tiny spot in the middle. You’re on the outside trying to program access to it. We have a $10 laser pointer and a system to program a hologram with a computer, and then to read out, we just stick in a camera. It’s all there in front of us — we don’t have to do high vacuum, we don’t have to do low temperature, so it’s very accessible.
So your work is kind of democratizing access to quantum science?
Absolutely. A big part of this is to provide accessibility so that anyone can do quantum science and maybe even quantum computing.
How does Google’s recent achievement impact the future of quantum computing?
Google showed us that quantum computing isn’t science fiction. It’s achievable, and their quantum computer’s three-minute calculation of a problem that would take a classical supercomputer 10,000 years shows that quantum computing can be worth the effort.
But now it’s time for more hard work: translating important challenges to quantum-optimized problems, and finding new ways to do quantum computing to make its power accessible to everyone.