AWS Opens Its Center for Quantum Computing on Caltech Campus

The AWS Center for Quantum Computing is located on the Caltech campus in Pasadena, CA.

AWS announced that it has opened the AWS Center for Quantum Computing in Pasadena, California, according to a company blog post.

Nadia Carlsten, head of product at the AWS Center for Quantum Computing, writes that the a state-of-the-art facility will be the center for the company’s efforts to build a fault-tolerant quantum computer.

“This new building is dedicated to our quantum computing efforts, and includes office space to house our quantum research teams, and laboratories comprising the scientific equipment and specialized tools for designing and running quantum devices,” Carlsten writes. “Here our team of hardware engineers, quantum theorists, and software developers work side by side to tackle the many challenges of building better quantum computers.”

Carlsten added that the facility includes spaces and equipment for R&D activities, “from making, testing, and operating quantum processors, to innovating the processes for controlling quantum computers and scaling the technologies needed to support bigger quantum devices, like cryogenic cooling systems and wiring.”

AWS has gathered significant academic contributions, including Amazon Scholars and Amazon Visiting Academics, including Liang Jiang (University of Chicago), Alexey Gorshkov (University of Maryland), John Preskill (Caltech), Gil Refael (Caltech), Amir Safavi-Naeimi (Stanford), Dave Schuster (University of Chicago), and James Whitfield (Dartmouth), according to the post.

Investigations at the AWS Center for Quantum Technologies will be focused on moving the quantum era away from the NISQ — noisy intermediate-stage quantum — to fault-tolerant machines and operations.

A microwave package encloses the quantum processor. The packaging is designed to shield the qubits from environmental noise while enabling communication with the control system.Carlsten writes: “There are two ways that we are approaching making better qubits at the AWS Center for Quantum Computing: the first is by improving error rates at the physical level, for example by investing in material improvements that reduce noise. The second is through innovative qubit architectures, including using Quantum Error Correction (QEC) to reduce quantum gate errors by redundantly encoding information into a protected qubit, called a logical qubit. This allows for the detection and correction of gate errors, and for the implementation of gate operations on the encoded qubits in a fault-tolerant way.”

Big Goals = Big Challenges

The team understands big goals mean big challenges.

“A bold goal like building a fault-tolerant quantum computer naturally means that there will be significant scientific and engineering challenges along the way, and supporting fundamental research and making a commitment to the scientific community working on these problems is essential for accelerating progress,” writes Carlsten. “Our Center is located on the Caltech campus, which enables us to interact with students and faculty from leading research groups in physics and engineering just a few buildings away.”

Carlsten said that Caltech’s reputation as a scientific hub is partially why the site is centered at Caltech, but added that history and current position in computing played a role, particularly, “the university’s rich history of contributions to computing – both classical and quantum – from pioneers like Richard Feynman, whose vision 40 years ago can be credited with kick-starting the field of quantum computing, to the current technical leads of the AWS Center for Quantum Computing: Oskar Painter (John G Braun Professor of Applied Physics, Head of Quantum Hardware), and Fernando Brandao (Bren Professor of Theoretical Physics, Head of Quantum Algorithms).”

Error Correction
Researchers at the center will also investigate error-correction methods.

“At the AWS Center for Quantum Computing, we have been researching ways to reduce this overhead through the use of qubit architectures that allow us to implement error correction more efficiently in quantum hardware,” writes Carlsten. “In particular, we are optimistic about approaches that make use of linear harmonic oscillators such as Gottesman-Kitaev-Preskill (GKP) qubits and ‘Schrödinger cat’ qubits, and recently proposed a theoretical design for a fault-tolerant quantum computer based on hardware-efficient architecture leveraging the latter.”

In the end, scientific achievement is important, but delivering solutions to customers is absolutely vital, according to the AWS team.

Carlsten writes: “Our ultimate goal is to deliver an error-corrected quantum computer that can perform reliable computations not just beyond what any classical computing technology is capable of, but at the scale needed to solve customer problems of practical importance.”

Matt Swayne
Matt Swayne
Matt Swayne is a contributor at The Quantum Daily. He focuses on breaking news about quantum discoveries and quantum computing. Matt enjoys working on -- and with -- startups and is currently working on a media studies master's degree, specializing in science communication.

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