Scientists are eager for advancements in quantum computing for specific reasons

During October of 2022, President Joe Biden from the United States paid a visit to a quantum computer located in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The magnificent system had been constructed by the technology company IBM. Resembling a modern sculpture, it featured intricate gold tubes and wires.

Images from the visit depict Biden closely observing the machinery. However, observers of these images may question: What makes this device a computer?

Operating at a temperature close to absolute zero, the machine, known as IBM Quantum System One, exists in an extremely cold environment. A mere fraction of a degree above absolute zero, which is the coldest temperature theoretically possible. IBM has situated Quantum System One devices in various locations worldwide, some enclosed in the same type of glass used to safeguard Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

President Joe Biden of the United States visited IBM in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 2022, where IBM’s CEO, Arvind Krishna, introduced a quantum computer. The golden chandelier-like arrangement of tubes and wires functions to maintain the computer at an extremely low temperature.MANDEL NGAN/Contributor/AFP/Getty Images

Quantum computing can only operate at a hair above absolute zero, where all movement ceases. The golden sculptural aspect of Quantum System One plays a critical role in maintaining the computing component at such frigid temperatures.

“Whenever you search ‘quantum computer,’ the images that come up are these grand, attractive golden chandeliers,” mentioned Corban Tillemann-Dick, the founder of Maybell Quantum Industries in Denver, Colo., during a presentation last February at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

a photo of a Quantum computer machine, resembling a giant golden chandelier hanging from the ceiling
This IBM Quantum System One machine in Tokyo emphasizes the necessity for extremely low temperatures in quantum computers. The golden chandelier actually functions as a massive refrigerator.Satoshi Kawase, for IBM/IBM Research/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED)

Regarding these images, he expressed, “They believe they’re next to a quantum computer. But in reality, that chandelier is the fridge.”

The portion responsible for problem-solving is located on a silicon piece at the base of the structure, small enough to fit in one’s hand. Tillemann-Dick, a designer creating methods to maintain the cold temperature of these quantum devices, jests about being a vendor of high-tech refrigerators.

Big technology companies such as IBM, Microsoft, and Google are in a race to develop the most advanced quantum computer. The motivation behind this race is the belief among their scientists that these systems will soon surpass existing machines in terms of task completion and problem-solving speed. Quantum computing is expected to handle issues that modern machines currently cannot.

Although quantum computers have not yet achieved that level of capability, they are approaching it.

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