May 12, 2011 Nature
Vancouver, Canada-based D-Wave Systems reports on quantum processor in Nature Magazine
VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA - Scientists at D-Wave Systems Inc. of Vancouver have reported the results of experiments designed to test the role quantum mechanics plays in how a new type of processor solves problems, in an article published in the May 12 edition of the prestigious British scientific journal, Nature.
Fabricated using standard integrated circuit processes, the processors tested contained 128 superconducting flux qubits and 24,000 devices known as Josephson junctions, making them among the most complex superconducting circuits ever built. Designed to solve optimization and sampling problems, the processors have been successfully used in a variety of tasks including financial risk analysis, bioinformatics, affinity mapping and sentiment analysis, object recognition in images, medical imaging classification and compressed sensing.
"We've known for some time that these processors are extremely effective at solving the problems they were designed to solve, but this is the first time we've been able to open up the black box and show how they are harnessing quantum mechanics in solving those problems," said Dr. Geordie Rose, D-Wave's Chief Technology Officer.
The scientists focused on a block of circuitry, known as a unit cell, within a processor. The unit cell, one of 16 on the chip studied, comprised eight superconducting flux qubits and 1,500 Josephson junctions. The researchers took a series of 'snapshots' of the behaviour of the unit cell as it underwent a computation, and showed that by using the high degree of control built into the integrated circuit, quantum effects could be precisely controlled as desired by a programmer in order to accelerate computation.
Dr. Mark Johnson, the lead scientist on the project, said: "We're very excited to see the remarkable agreement between what quantum mechanics predicts, and what we see in these circuits."
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