• Quantum error correction is a significant driver for quantum computing research and the unending quest for quantum supremacy
• The quantum computing market will explode if quantum error correction allows for markedly more stable qubits
As 2022 continues its exorable march towards 2023, the developments in the quantum computing market continue at a dizzying pace. Its particularly remarkable considering that quantum supremacy is still elusive. Quantum supremacy, also sometimes called quantum advantage, is when a quantum computer can solve problems faster than its classical computing counterparts. Without quantum supremacy, the commercial uses and long term prospects of quantum computing evaporate like water droplets in a hot skillet.
The key to quantum supremacy is the number of qubits a given system has, but the quality of those qubits also matters. Thus, fewer good or stable qubits are actually better than more but less stable qubits. As it is today, qubits are often unstable and characterized as ‘noisy.’ The can decohere before a calculation can be run, or, worse, during a computational run. There are a number of methods to making a quantum computer, including ion traps, neutral atoms, superconducting, and even photonic qubits. Likely there will be even more methods for creating a quantum computer, including silicon and other methods that are all, at present, very experimental. Each of these methods have advantages and drawbacks. All of them suffer from the unstable qubit problem. To fix it there needs to be quantum error correction.
Universally, quantum error correction is what will enable the era of quantum supremacy, regardless of which technological method used to create a quantum computer. The buzz for the rest of the year and into 2023 will be around error correction. If the error correction problem can be solved, it will cause an instant boost to quantum computing and supercharge an already overheated market. Beyond the practical reasons for quantum error correction, there are good market reasons that the news around it will continue to increase. Anyone who has followed the quantum computing market knows that the arc of this technology up till a few years ago has been unbearably slow, given the significant scientific and manufacturing barriers in this new field. It has resulted in a yo-yo pattern of quantum enthusiasm followed by disillusionment and then nothing for years before the cycle repeats.
However, quantum computing has reached critical mass in a number of areas. Nation-states and educational institutions have invested considerable money into the technology. Additionally, investor money is flowing to quantum computing firms by the bucket. Yet the specter of another so-called ‘quantum winter’ still looms in the minds of many, mostly because quantum supremacy and the hyped promises of the market have yet to reveal solid results and commercial use cases. Quantum error correction could be the push that brings about true birth of the quantum computing era.