Quantum computing is heating up. For the first time, quantum computer chips have been operated at a temperature above -272°C, or 1 kelvin. That may still seem frigid, but it is just warm enough to potentially enable a huge leap in the capabilities.
Quantum computers are made of quantum bits, or qubits, which can be made in several different ways. One that is receiving attention from some of the field’s big players consists of electrons on a silicon chip.
These systems only function at extremely low temperatures – below 100 millikelvin, or -273.05°C – so the qubits have to be stored in powerful refrigerators. The electronics that power them won’t run at such low temperatures, and also emit heat that could disrupt the qubits, so they are generally stored outside the refrigerators with each qubit is connected by a wire to its electronic controller.
“Eventually, for useful quantum computing, we…