PsiQuantum: Australia places A$1 billion bet on quantum computing | New Scientist

A joint investment by the Australian federal government and the government of Queensland makes PsiQuantum one of the largest dedicated quantum computing firms in the world

The Australian government has announced it will invest nearly A$1 billion into the development of quantum computers, staking a claim in a race currently dominated by the US and China.

PsiQuantum, which is headquartered in the US but was co-founded by a team including two Australian researchers, will get A$470 million from both Australia’s federal government and the state government of Queensland, totalling A$940m ($613m). In return, the company will build and operate successive generations of its quantum computers in Brisbane, Australia.

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Stephen Bartlett at the University of Sydney says the announcement amounts to Australia staking a claim to sovereign capability in quantum computing and building up a quantum technology ecosystem.

“What gets me really excited about this is that the scale of investment means we are serious,” says Bartlett. While big technology companies like IBM, Google and Microsoft have made multi-billion dollar investments in quantum computing, Australia’s funding makes PsiQuantum one of the biggest dedicated quantum computing companies in the world.

Quantum computers offer the potential to complete some tasks much faster than any ordinary computer. To date, such capabilities have only been demonstrated on problems with no practical applications, but as research teams in the US, China and elsewhere race to build larger and less error-prone machines, the hope is they will start proving useful.

While many teams are building quantum computers based on superconductors, PsiQuantum’s approach involves particles of light called photons, a method which had been seen as difficult to scale up. But ahead of the Australian announcement, PsiQuantum published a paper detailing how it has been able to use a standard semiconductor fabrication set-up, of the type used to make ordinary computer chips, to build the photonic chips it needs for quantum machines.

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Australia has exported a generation of quantum researchers, including PsiQuantum co-founders Jeremy O’Brien and Terry Rudolph. The government investment may entice such scientists to begin returning and building careers in Australia, says Bartlett. “Australia is saying we are going to sit at the big table when it comes to quantum computing.”

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