Quantum computing is different from regular binary computing in that it uses qubits (quantum bits) instead of the convention binary digit code of zeros and ones. Qubit processing is much more powerful and effective than the regular binary processing ordinary computers are capable of. Quantum technology is far superior to its binary counterpart, capable of solving very complicated math problems, modeling complex chemical processes, and even cracking systems that protect personal online data.
Harnessing the Power of Atoms
Quantum computing is based on the use of atoms and molecules to carry out processing and memory tasks. Albeit still being in its early stages, hopes for this technology and its benefits to society are high. Experts believe quantum systems would be much more secure than traditional ones.
The Race to the Top
International tech giants like IBM and Google are working fervently on the development of quantum computers. In the summer of 2016, a quantum device was used by Google engineers to simulate a hydrogen molecule. In March 2017, Google announced an ambitious plan to start marketing quantum technology in the next five years. The search giant declared its goal to achieve ‘quantum supremacy’ by the end of the year and began working on a 49-qubit computer to this end. By ‘quantum supremacy’ they meant effectively launching serial production of these supercomputers.
Skeptics argued that Google’s goal was arbitrary and unachievable. Either way, IBM is now leading the way – in the fall of 2017, the corporation announced it had completed work on a quantum computer with 50-qubit capacity. Their quantum system, however, could only hold its microstate for a minute and a half. Despite being a record, it was very far from what is required to render quantum computing feasible.
IBM’s widely heralded achievement is truly not tantamount to quantum supremacy. They have, however, managed to make quantum computers commercially available, unlike Google – at the end of last year, IBM made its 20-qubit quantum system accessible online, and it has been offering researchers the opportunity to run experiments on a 5-qubit computer via the cloud since 2016. IBM has also succeeded in modeling complex molecule behavior using quantum technology.
The Future of Quantum Computing
Quantum computational operations have been carried out on a limited number of quantum bits. A large number of governments and military organizations are now funding research to make quantum computers publicly accessible for purposes of national security.