Big company labs & development

Rather than promote a particular company, this article is intended to give you a sense of the breadth of commitment to the overall area in the traditional players in corporate research.

Perhaps the longest-standing, most prestigious industrial research effort belongs to IBM. Charles Bennett, who invented or co-invented reversible classical computing, quantum teleportation, quantum key distribution, important forms of quantum error correction and error detection, has spent almost his entire career at T.J. Watson Research Center. David DiVincenzo, who laid out important guidelines for building quantum computers, spent many years there. IBM was also the site of some of the very earliest quantum computing experiments, and continues to be a leader in superconducting systems. (IBM actually has a very long history with superconducting materials, and has considered building classical computers using them at various times.) IBM has made a five-qubit superconducting system and a sixteen-qubit system available on the web for anyone to use, with an easy-to-use graphical interface for programming.

Keio has recently joined IBM’s Q Network, through our Keio Quantum Computing Center, providing our researchers access to their two 20-qubit systems.

Bell Labs, now part of Nokia, produced the two most famous quantum algorithms from the 1990s: Peter Shor and Lov Grover both worked there. Bell Labs also has a strong experimental contingent.

In Japan, NTT and NEC both had experimental groups working on the fundamental science of quantum dots and superconductors, respectively, for decades, and transitioned smoothly into leading industrial players in quantum information. Toshiba and Hitachi also have had long-standing research efforts. These Japanese companies also have laboratories in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Companies more traditionally associated with software and Internet services have also been involved in quantum computing research for a decade or more. Microsoft has several efforts, dating back to 2005. The Station Q team in Santa Barbara is researching a way of organizing matter such that quantum information is preserved indefinitely even without active error correction. The QuArC group in Redmond, headed by Krysta Svore, is developing software tools for programming and simulating quantum computers, as well as studying quantum chemistry and other algorithms. They also have an ongoing interest in evaluating D-Wave’s machines and researching adiabatic quantum computing.

Google made a big splash in quantum computing by teaming with NASA to acquire one of the first D-Wave machines in 2013, ostensibly to work on quantum artificial intelligence. It has maintained a steady presence in this area for years, and followed on by hiring John Martinis and his team away from UC Santa Barbara. In June 2017, Google announced that it is testing a 20-qubit superconducting chip.

In addition to these well-known giants, important but smaller technology companies that often develop specialized systems for the U.S. government have been working in the area for years. BBN, famous for building the hardware for the first ARPANET experiments in the late 1960s, teamed with Boston University and Harvard to build the first quantum key distribution (QKD) testbed for DARPA, and has worked on quantum computing hardware. MITRE has had an effort for some years, collaborating with Princeton University. HRL, where the first laser was built, has a large experimental project using quantum dots, and in recent years has published results showing improvements in fabrication and fidelity for both computing and communication.

A recent major entrant into the field is Intel, which has recently partnered with TU Delft in the Netherlands for quantum hardware research using silicon.

In China, Alibaba and Baidu are two extremely successful Internet businesses. Both have recently anounced efforts in quantum computing. In March 2018, Alibaba announced that its 11-qubit superconducting system would be available on the web, but we are not aware of a publicly reachable system as of fall 2018. At the same time, Baidu announced the creation of its Quantum Computing Institute. Both companies will be investing large sums of money in the coming years.

As of this writing, Intel (working with TU Delft), IBM, and Google all have larger quantum computers under testing: 49, 50 and 72 qubits, respectively.

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding Quantum Computers

Keio University