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Inside the box at D-Wave

18 Feb 2012, 15:04 UTC
Inside the box at D-Wave
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Touring the quantum-computer maker

By Hamish Johnston
Yesterday I took a cab out to nearby Burnaby to have a chat with Geordie Rose, a physicist who is co-founder of the quantum-computer maker D-Wave systems. That's Geordie on the right standing next to one of the firm's famous black boxes.

What's inside the box? I had a look. The box itself is a shield that protects its contents from electromagnetic fields that would wreak havoc with D-Wave's quantum bits (qubits) – which are superconducting flux qubits. In simple terms, each qubit is a little magnet that could easily be perturbed by stray fields.

Also in the box is a dilution refrigerator, which cools the chips to near absolute zero. D-Wave uses "dry" fridges that don't need to be topped up with costly liquid helium. Indeed, Rose says that the firm has played an important role in the development of dry fridges.

The fridge cools an integrated circuit that contains hundreds of flux qubits. They are arranged in a 2D array each is coupled with their nearest neighbour, creating an Ising model on a chip.

I also stopped in to chat with D-Wave's Suzanne Gildert (below), who is developing the firm's ...

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