Chinese startup Shenzhen SpinQ Technology has developed a full-fledged quantum computer that can be used in schools and universities to teach how quantum computers work. A device the size and weight of a small system unit costs about 380 thousand rubles, which contrasts sharply with the multi-million dollar price tags for models already known to the market like the Canadian D-Wave 2000Q.
The relatively low cost is due to low computing power. SpinQ operates with only two qubits (the same D-Wave operates with 2000 qubits), so it is unsuitable for breaking codes or “heavy” calculations. But for study – just right.
This isn’t the company’s first quantum model. Last year, it also introduced a desktop two-qubit device that had two important features: a price tag of $ 50,000 and a heavy weight of 55 kg. For this reason, educational institutions in Canada, China and Taiwan were not very active in acquiring SpinQ Gemini quantum systems. But they were interested in the supply of a modified computer, which became lighter and cheaper. The start of deliveries of new items is expected in the fourth quarter of 2021.
How does a “learning” quantum computer work?
The computer is based on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology. This is a technology well known to scientists that is used in the chemical industry to study the structure of matter. It is also used in medicine (MRI). In a simplified way, the principle of operation is as follows: when certain substances are irradiated with radio frequency radiation, the direction of the spins of the atoms of the substance changes, and these changes can be seen.
That is, we get the opportunity to control the spins of atoms in molecules and force neighboring atoms to interact with each other (to be bound). Changing the spin of atoms (which is equivalent to changing 0 to 1) and the interaction of the spins of neighboring atoms, allows you to simulate mathematical operations, and get the result.
To control the spins, the SpinQ system is connected to an ordinary computer, which interprets a mathematical algorithm into a quantum one and returns the result of the interaction of qubits.
The working substance of the SpinQ quantum system is dimethyl phosphite, a tetrahedral molecule consisting of one phosphorus atom, one hydrogen atom, oxygen, and two CH3O groups. At room temperature, dimethyl phosphite takes the form of a colorless liquid.
The developers at Shenzhen SpinQ Technology say dimethyl phosphite is the ideal substance for small quantum computers. In it, phosphorus and hydrogen atoms are bonded to each other and close enough to interact, but they can be controlled independently of each other.
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