Whatever happened, the Majorana drama is a setback for Microsofts ambitions to compete in quantum computing. Leading computing companies say the technology will define the future by enabling new breakthroughs in science and engineering.
Quantum computers are built from devices called qubits that encode 1s and 0s of data but can also use a quantum state called a superposition to perform math tricks not possible for the bits in a conventional computer. The main challenge to commercializing that idea is that quantum states are delicate and easily quashed by thermal or electromagnetic noise, making qubits error-prone.
Google, IBM, and Intel have all shown off prototype quantum processors with around 50 qubits, and companies including Goldman Sachs and Merck are testing the technology. But thousands or millions of qubits are likely required for useful work. Much of a quantum computers power would probably have to be dedicated to correcting its own glitches.
Microsoft has taken a different approach, claiming qubits based on Majorana particles will be more scalable, allowing it to leap ahead. But after more than a decade of work, it does not have a single qubit.
From the fuller data, theres no doubt that theres no Majorana.
Sergey Frolov, University of Pittsburgh
Majorana fermions are named after Italian physicist Ettore Majorana, who hypothesized in 1937 that particles should exist with the odd property of being their own antiparticles. Not long after, he boarded a ship and was never seen again. Physicists wouldnt report a good glimpse of one of his eponymous particles until the next millennium, in Kouwenhovens lab.
Microsoft got interested in Majoranas after company researchers in 2004 approached tech strategy chief Craig Mundie and said they had a way to solve one problem holding back quantum computersqubits flakiness.
The researchers seized on theoretical physics papers suggesting a way to build qubits that would make them more dependable. These so-called topological qubits would be built around unusual particles, of which Majorana particles are one example, that can pop into existence in clumps of electrons inside certain materials at very low temperatures.
Microsoft created a new team of physicists and mathematicians to flesh out the theory and practice of topological quantum computing, centered on an outpost in Santa Barbara, California, christened Station Q. They collaborated with and funded leading experimental physicists hunting for the particles needed to build this new form of qubit.
Kouwenhoven, in Delft, was one of the physicists who got Microsofts backing. His 2012 paper reporting signatures of Majorana particles inside nanowires started chatter about a future Nobel prize for proving the elusive particles existence. In 2016, Microsoft stepped up its investmentand the hype.
Everything you ever wanted to know about qubits, superpositioning, and spooky action at a distance.
Kouwenhoven and another leading physicist, Charles Marcus, at the University of Copenhagen were hired as corporate Majorana hunters. The plan was to first detect the particles and then invent more complex devices that could control them and function as qubits. Todd Holmdahl, who previously led hardware for Microsofts lucrative Xbox games console, took over as leader of the topological quantum computing project. Early in 2018, he told Barrons he would have a topological qubit by the end of the year. The now-disputed paper appeared a month later.
While Microsoft sought Majoranas, competitors working on established qubit technologies reported steady progress. In 2019, Google announced it had reached a milestone called quantum supremacy, showing that a chip with 53 qubits could perform a statistical calculation in minutes that would take a supercomputer millennia. Soon after, Microsoft appeared to hedge its quantum bet, announcing it would offer access to quantum hardware from other companies via its cloud service Azure. The Wall Street Journal reported that Holmdahl left the project that year after missing an internal deadline.
Microsoft has been quieter about its expected pace of progress on quantum hardware since Holmdahl's departure. Competitors in quantum computing continue to tout hardware advances and urge software developers to access prototypes over the internet, but none appear close to creating a quantum computer ready for prime time.
Go here to read the rest:
- The windswept German island that inspired quantum physics - Spectator.co.uk - April 6th, 2021
- Junior wins Goldwater scholarship | The Source | Washington University in St. Louis - Washington University Record - April 6th, 2021
- Raytheon Technologies Announces $500 Million Social Impact Initiative - PRNewswire - April 6th, 2021
- Raytheon Technologies to release first quarter results on April 27, 2021 - CapeNews.net - April 6th, 2021
- An Interstellar Trip with Einstein, Newton, and Tesla - EE Times India - April 6th, 2021
- Searching for New Physics in the Subatomic World - SciTechDaily - April 6th, 2021
- QCI Expands Sales and Marketing Team to Accelerate Growth and Advance Enterprise Adoption of Quantum Computing - GlobeNewswire - April 6th, 2021
- Quantum Physics to Disrupt Geospatial Industry over the Coming Decade - GIM International - April 4th, 2021
- Imaginarity: New Paper Says The Imaginary Part Of Quantum Mechanics Can Be Observed - Science 2.0 - April 4th, 2021
- The mystery of the muon's magnetism | symmetry magazine - Symmetry magazine - April 4th, 2021
- Your Guide to Products and Technologies That Are Pseudoscience - Interesting Engineering - April 4th, 2021
- 6 Quantum Computing Stocks to Invest in This Decade - Investment U - April 4th, 2021
- What if youre living in a simulation, but theres no computer? - The Next Web - April 4th, 2021
- Quantum physics: what to expect - Study International News - March 31st, 2021
- Helgoland by Carlo Rovelli review a meditation on quantum theory - The Guardian - March 31st, 2021
- 'Spacekime theory' could speed up research and heal the rift in physics - Big Think - March 31st, 2021
- Some Black Holes Are Impossible In Our Universe - Forbes - March 31st, 2021
- Scientists Have Simulated The Primordial Quantum Structure of Our Universe - ScienceAlert - March 31st, 2021
- Post-Doctoral Research Associate Experimental Condensed Matter Physics job with ROYAL HOLLOWAY, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON | 250229 - Times Higher Education... - March 31st, 2021
- No free will, no ideas: Physicist Brian Greene reduces everything to 'particles and fields' - National Catholic Reporter - March 31st, 2021
- Carlo Rovelli on his search for the theory of everything - Prospect - March 31st, 2021
- Do Alternate Realities Exist? This Artist's Machines Are Ready to Find Out - PCMag - March 31st, 2021
- After 50 Years, Physicists Confirm The Existence of an Elusive Quasiparticle - ScienceAlert - March 25th, 2021
- Helgoland by Carlo Rovelli review the mysteries of quantum mechanics - The Guardian - March 25th, 2021
- Quantum Week 2021 Unveils the Latest in Quantum Computing and Engineering - PRNewswire - March 25th, 2021
- QMAP Will Have Data Science and AI as Downstairs Neighbors - UC Davis - March 25th, 2021
- Has the black hole information paradox evaporated? - Symmetry magazine - March 25th, 2021
- Ultracold Quantum Collisions Have Been Achieved in Space for the First Time - Scientific American - March 25th, 2021
- Measuring the invisible - MIT News - March 25th, 2021
- Einsteins Fridge Review: Heated Arguments - The Wall Street Journal - March 25th, 2021
- I'm Agonizing over My Naive Realism - Scientific American - March 25th, 2021
- Crucial Milestone for Scalable Quantum Technology: 2D Array of Semiconductor Qubits That Functions as a Quantum Processor - SciTechDaily - March 25th, 2021
- Letter to the Editor: Too many satellites could obscure the stars - pressherald.com - March 16th, 2021
- Netflix scores 35 Oscar nominations in year dominated by streaming - ETTelecom.com - March 16th, 2021
- Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to appear in Canada court for final phase of extradition hearings - ETTelecom.com - March 16th, 2021
- Quantum Mechanics, the Chinese Room Experiment and the Limits of Understanding - Scientific American - March 11th, 2021
- Welcome To The Future: Navigating The Rich, Intertwined Quantum Software Ecosystem - Forbes - March 11th, 2021
- Quantum Mischief Rewrites the Laws of Cause and Effect - Quanta Magazine - March 11th, 2021
- Physicists have measured gravity on the smallest scale ever - New Scientist News - March 11th, 2021
- Mindblowing Approach to Electromobility: Is nanoFlowcell Overtaking the Future? - autoevolution - March 7th, 2021
- Physicists Just Found 4 New Subatomic Particles That May Test The Laws of Nature - ScienceAlert - March 7th, 2021
- New History of the Physics Department by Raj Gupta and Paul Sharrah Published - University of Arkansas Newswire - March 3rd, 2021
- New research indicates the whole universe could be a giant neural network - The Next Web - March 3rd, 2021
- Roivant Grows Computational Drug Discovery Engine with Acquisition of Silicon Therapeutics - Business Wire - March 3rd, 2021
- Physics - The Tiniest Superfluid Circuit in Nature - Physics - February 27th, 2021
- Can god be disproved using the laws of physics? An expert explains how it depends on perspective - Scroll.in - February 27th, 2021
- How philosophy blends physics with the idea of free will - Big Think - February 27th, 2021
- Exclusive! Ashwin Sanghi on his dream to cast Sushant Singh Rajput in 'Keepers Of The Kalachakra' series: He was like an excited child when it came to... - February 27th, 2021
- SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: PennyLane - SDTimes.com - February 27th, 2021
- Google Teams With D-Wave in Massive Quantum Computing Leap, Cracking Simulation Problem - The Daily Hodl - February 27th, 2021
- Tech Talk: Universe or multiverse? | Free - Ashland Daily Press - February 27th, 2021
- Physicists Show a Speed Limit Also Applies in the Quantum World - SciTechDaily - February 25th, 2021
- Can the laws of Physics help settle the debate over the existence of God? - Firstpost - February 25th, 2021
- OU appoints three to rank of Distinguished Professor - 2021 - Office of the Provost - News - OU Magazine - News at OU - February 25th, 2021
- Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance Expands Impact and Reach with Addition of 10 New Partners - PR Web - February 25th, 2021
- Everything you need to know about quantum physics (almost ... - February 22nd, 2021
- Quantum mechanics - Wikipedia - February 22nd, 2021
- Six Things Everyone Should Know About Quantum Physics - February 22nd, 2021
- A new Approach Could Tease out the Connection Between Gravity and Quantum Mechanics - Universe Today - February 22nd, 2021
- And So It Begins Quantum Physicists Create a New Universe With Its Own Rules - The Daily Galaxy --Great Discoveries Channel - February 22nd, 2021
- IBM adds 10 historically Black colleges and universities to quantum computing center - TechRepublic - February 22nd, 2021
- Physicists Need to Be More Careful with How They Name Things - Scientific American - February 22nd, 2021
- Can the laws of physics disprove God? - The Conversation UK - February 22nd, 2021
- Planet Earth Report The Quantum Century to Events That Could Have Ended Humanity - The Daily Galaxy --Great Discoveries Channel - February 22nd, 2021
- A New Measurement of Quantum Space-Time Has Found Nothing Going On - ScienceAlert - February 22nd, 2021
- With a $50,000 Grant, Black Quantum Futurism Will Continue to Disrupt Space and Time - GalleristNY - February 22nd, 2021
- Gravity May Play a Tiny But Important Role in The Microworld of Particle Physics - ScienceAlert - February 22nd, 2021
- IBM Adds Future Developer And Software Details To Its Quantum Roadmap - Forbes - February 22nd, 2021
- Physics - A Superconducting Qubit that Protects Itself - Physics - February 22nd, 2021
- Black Quantum Futurism receives the Knight Foundations new art and technology fellowship - WHYY - February 22nd, 2021
- What science tells us about the quantum origin of the universe - Sunday Vision - February 22nd, 2021
- Quantum Mechanics, Free Will and the Game of Life - Scientific American - February 14th, 2021
- Quantum Theory Proposes That Cause and Effect Can Go In Loops - Universe Today - February 14th, 2021
- The search for dark matter gets a speed boost from quantum technology - The Conversation US - February 14th, 2021
- Kangaroo Court: Quantum Computing Thinking on the Future - JD Supra - February 14th, 2021
- New EU Consortium shaping the future of Quantum Computing USA - PRNewswire - February 14th, 2021
- 2020 Quantum Communications in Space Research Report: Quantum Communications are Expected to Solve the Problem of Secure communications First on... - February 14th, 2021
- Mutually unbiased bases and symmetric informationally complete measurements in Bell experiments - Science Advances - February 14th, 2021
- Yale Quantum Institute Co-sponsored Event - Alternative Realities for the Living - Quantum Physics & Fiction - Yale News - February 14th, 2021
- Dont Tell Einstein, but Black Holes Might Have Hair - WIRED - February 14th, 2021