Physics

Microsoft has sponsored and participated in fundamental quantum physics research for more than a decade with the goal of empowering a quantum-computing revolution. Breakthroughs in theory have led to breakthroughs in experimental physics and the reality of a path forward for scalable quantum computing. Our approach focuses on topological quantum computing through Majorana fermions, which promise to yield fast, stable quantum bits, also known as qubits.

Materials

To achieve our goal, we started by creating the raw materials necessary to make topological quantum devices. We grew specialised nanowires that can be used to make qubits. We also created atomically thin conducting layers with exotic topological properties using integrated-circuit manufacturing techniques to realise a fully scalable quantum computer.

Devices

Taking the materials and turning them into working devices is no small task. Microsoft runs several labs around the world that specialise in the fabrication of quantum devices. The infrastructure we’ve built allows for the efficient mounting, wiring, and cooling of these devices, which in turn supports rapid prototyping, characterisation, and exploration. These devices operate at temperatures almost 200 times colder than the farthest reaches of outer space.

Control

Sending and receiving signals to nanoscale devices is also a daunting task. A scalable quantum computer requires many fast and reliable signals. We’ve designed classical integrated-circuits that run at cryogenic temperatures where standard chips will not operate. We even changed the wiring to handle signals that are in the super-conducting regime. The entire infrastructure is integrated to allow for scalability, including the cooling system itself.

Runtime

To solve problems on a quantum computer, you need a runtime that executes a quantum algorithm while maintaining the state of the machine, operating the control system in a parallel real-time environment, and communicating from the device to the outside world. The runtime layer is the firmware and operating system of the quantum computer.

Quantum development tools

To help quantum developers build applications and algorithms, we've designed the Quantum Development Kit—a set of enterprise-grade tools to write, debug, and optimise quantum code. Microsoft has been focused on providing an integrated software experience for as long as we’ve been working on the hardware itself, and this kit includes everything you need to get started. Microsoft will also create quantum services in Azure, giving you a fast path from simulation to optimisation to deployment on quantum hardware.

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