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IARPA: Come, quantum computing boffins. We've got cash for you

Funds for 'logical qubit' development, no less

Nay-sayers may nay-say, but America's Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) reckons research into quantum computing is advanced enough to warrant a five-year program to kick things along.

It's kicked off what it the Logical Qubits (LogiQ) program here, and it's looking to fund work building current science.

Foundational research is out of scope for this, the document states, as is adiabatic quantum computing (sorry D-Wave) and quantum simulation. Instead, grant applications have to develop technologies that have “already demonstrated multi-qubit operations and control.”

The funding on offer – the amount in the pool isn't stipulated but the documents assume that some projects could exceed $700,000 – is for researchers to take “imperfect physical qubits” and assemble them into a logical qubit.

“LogiQ envisions that program success will require a multi-disciplinary approach that increases the fidelity of quantum gates, state preparation, and qubit readout; improves classical control; implements active quantum feedback; has the ability to reset and reuse qubits; and performs further system improvements”, the funding request states.

In other words: we know you can make qubits, quantum computing boffins, but they're low reliability, and prone to errors in the presence of noise (which is why today's quantum computing research is conducted in supercooled environments).

The key program target is to “perform universal quantum gate set in multi-physical-qubit system” – with 99.9 per cent fidelity at the end of five years.

IARPA evidently believes it's at least feasible that a working multi-qubit quantum gate with that kind of accuracy is achievable within the timeframe.

It likewise wants to help error correction get better, since one of the other targets is to “correct errors simultaneously and perform sequential error-corrected logical operations” on logical qubits – again with a 99.9 per cent fidelity.

“Success in building practical quantum computers hinges on the ability to combat environment-induced decoherence and errors in quantum gates. This can be effectively and extensibly achieved by innovations that encode physical qubits into a logical qubit”, the LogiQ document notes.

And while scalability isn't a requirement of this grant round, “LogiQ seeks a modular architecture design of two coupled logical qubits that creates a flexible and feasible path to larger systems.” ®

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