IBM has built the world’s largest dilution cooler. Their mission: to cool quantum computers

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Quantum computing continues to overcome challenges and, although it still has a long way to go, it is focused on achieving the promises foreseen for this decade. One of the big differences between this quantum computational paradigm and the classical one is that it is based on qubits instead of bits. Broadly speaking, so that the cubits do not lose their properties, quantum computers must operate at extremely low temperatures.

Tech giants like Google, Intel and IBM know well that getting the temperature right so as not to disturb the qubits is one of the most important challenges they have to face when advancing quantum computing research. IBM Research, the research organization of the US multinational, has taken an important step by creating the world’s largest dilution refrigerator for quantum computers.

The challenge of building a refrigerator for quantum computers

Almost two years have passed since IBM announced the development of a new dilution cooler that would be capable of providing the ideal temperatures for its future research in the field of quantum computing. Now, Project Goldeneye is a reality. It is a refrigerator designed to offer a cooling capacity of 1.7 cubic metersa significant jump from the 0.4 or 0.7 of previous refrigerators.

Researchers at IBM Research put the refrigerator to the test. They connected a quantum processor inside it and got operate at a temperature of 25 millikelvin (-273.125 Celsius). Now that they know the device works, they can move on to the next stage: moving the entire system to the IBM Quantum Computation Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, where research into cryogenic systems for quantum computers will continue.

Goldeneye Lab Blog Dd8937c1fa

From IBM Research they explain that building this type of machinery is extremely complex, however, Project Goldeneye came to transform this. The cooler features a completely new design of the frame and cryostat, the main barrel-shaped component responsible for cooling, to maximize experimental volume and reduce noise. Being a modular concept, it can be easily transported and assembled.

Other systems, they say, require cranes and a dozen technicians for assembly and disassembly. Project Goldeneye’s refrigerator, on the other hand, can complete the aforementioned tasks with a team of four people. However, IBM has also considered using a specially designed jib crane so that in future only one person can assemble the refrigerator.

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It should be noted that Project Goldeneye is a proof of concept and the coolers in future quantum computers from IBM and other companies may not be that big. What is clear is that these types of advances allow technology to be taken to new limits and open the door to more complex research, not only from the cryogenic point of view, but also from the quantum processors themselves.

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Quantum computing continues to overcome challenges and, although it still has a long way to go, it is focused on…

Quantum computing continues to overcome challenges and, although it still has a long way to go, it is focused on…

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