IBM's Quantum Ambassador for EMEA and Asia-Pacific – a business development role – has jumped to a little-known startup called Quantum Brilliance that believes it can bring diamond-powered quantum accelerators into conventional computers within five years.
The Ambassador is Mark Mattingley-Scott, a 31-year IBMer whose role at Big Blue was to get customers excited about the company's Quantum offerings – such as the Quantum System One inaugurated at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft research organisation in June 2021.
Mattingley-Scott will take on the role of European Managing Director for Quantum Brilliance.
He won't have anything to sell for a while, which might make life tricky.
But The Register recently spoke to Quantum Brilliance CEO Andrew Horsely, and learned that Mattingley-Scott will at least have an interesting story to tell.
Horsley explained that most approaches to building quantum computers require very low temperatures to ensure stability of quantum states.
"Unless your quantum computer is normalised and does not require magic infrastructure you are limited," Horsley opined. And as luck would have it, Quantum Brilliance believes it can use semiconducting artificial diamonds to hold quantum states at room temperature – perhaps even in a form factor such as an accelerator card for servers or workstations.
"The computational bits are nuclei and we interact with electrons," Horsley explained. "Nuclei are great because they are isolated. The challenge is that they are very well isolated."
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Quantum Brilliance thinks it can place those nuclei in artificial diamonds that include atomic-scale defects called "nitrogen vacancy centres", then make electrons behave as desired using microwaves, lasers, and radio frequency pulses, all driven by a conventional microprocessor. Horsely said Quantum Brilliance believes it can deliver the tech needed to create diamonds capable of hosting qubits, and the tech to tickle them, within five years. And deliver it all in a package that will work on a desk.
Horsley told The Register that the aim is to deliver devices that offer quantum acceleration in much the same way a GPU offers a compute resource today, and to offer APIs that allow developers to use C++ or Python to access quantum resources.
"We are involved in projects to create six-inch diamond wafers, and projects to patent it," Horsely said. A process called "plasma-assisted vapor deposition" is a promising candidate to get the job done.
The company also plans to create a two-qubit system to be deployed at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, an Australian facility that hosts supercomputers that have cracked the top 50 of the prestigious Top 500 supercomputer list.
Pawsey also plays a role in processing data from the Square Kilometre Array, raising the possibility that quantum kit will help to process the daily terabyte torrents that enormo-scope will produce once operational. ®