Sign up now to get free exclusive access to reports, research and invitation only events.
CQC2T is leading a global race to build a silicon-based quantum computer
In an unremarkable looking building on UNSW’s Sydney campus something incredible is taking place. Within its walls, researchers are in a race to develop the world’s first quantum computer. It is a place of extremes: Temperatures as cold as space, vacuums of immense pressure and results that can be measured by the atom. Take a look inside the labs of CQC2T - the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology. The research has drawn interest — and investment — from the Commonwealth Bank and Telstra.
Words: George Nott. Images: Joshua Lundberg.
Pictured: UNSW Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons, director of CQC2T
The Atomic Fabrication Facility was established in 2001 to develop atomically precise devices in silicon.
This Variable Temperature Scanning Tunneling Microscope is used to image the silicon surface and perform atomic-scale lithography. First, a silicon shard is coated in hydrogen atoms.
In this chamber, the tip of the microscope provides a pulse which knocks off six hydrogen atoms from the silicon shard.
The six atom hole is filled in with phosphorus atoms. The resulting extra electron of the phosphorus forms the foundation of the quantum bit, or qubit.
Professor Michelle Simmons and a researcher inspect the chamber.
SImmons heads a team of more than 180 researchers across six Australian universities.
Behind the scenes at the Atomic Fabrication Facility
This room is part of the centre's Nanofabrication Facility. Here researchers don suits and masks and piece together the components of quantum chips at the atomic scale.
The Cryogenic Measurement Laboratories houses sophisticated experimental facilities for measuring nanoscale devices.
Once chips have been made, they are super-cooled to absolute zero.
To measure the spin of the electron on the qubit, the chip is placed in a superconducting magnet.
With the magnet, the state of the electron on the phosphorus atom in the silicon qubit can be detected and controlled.
A researcher in the Cryogenic Measurement Laboratories
These machines measure the spin of the electron on the qubit.
Researchers with Prof Michelle Simmons.
In another part of the lab, a Scanning Tunneling Microscope is wrapped in tin foil. It will then be boxed up and 'baked' over a period of a week to remove impurities.
The lab is installing additional microscopes to increase its qubit output.