China develops new record-breaking 'Jiuzhang' quantum computer prototype
Updated 21:48, 11-Oct-2023


Chinese scientists have developed a new quantum computer prototype known as "Jiuzhang 3.0" with 255 detected photons, pushing the speed of computing to a new high.

Led by the renowned Chinese quantum physicist Pan Jianwei, the research team has successfully accomplished this quantum computing feat, achieving a speed that is 10 quadrillion times faster in solving Gaussian boson sampling (GBS) problems compared to the world's existing fastest supercomputers.

Gaussian boson sampling, a quantum computation intractable for conventional computers, was employed in this study to provide a highly efficient way of demonstrating quantum computational speedup in solving some well-defined tasks.

The study was published online in the journal Physical Review Letters on Wednesday.

Lu Chaoyang, a member of the research team and professor at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), said that a series of innovations, including a newly developed superconducting nanowire single-photon detection scheme with fiber loop-based configuration, increased the number of detected photons for "Jiuzhang 3.0" to 255, greatly improving the complexity of photonics quantum computing.

"By demultiplexing photons into time bins through delays, we've achieved capabilities of pseudo photon number resolving," Lu added.

According to the state-of-the-art exact classical simulation algorithm, "Jiuzhang 3.0" is a million times faster at solving GBS problems than its predecessor, "Jiuzhang 2.0." Moreover, the most complex samples of GBS that "Jiuzhang 3.0" can calculate in just one microsecond would take the world's fastest supercomputer, "Frontier," more than 20 billion years to complete.

Quantum computing, a new computing paradigm, features extremely fast parallel computing capability.

It has the potential to achieve exponential speedup through specific quantum algorithms compared with classical computers in solving problems of great social and economic value.

Therefore, the development of quantum computers is one of the biggest challenges in the current scientific and technological frontier of the world.

In 2020, a USTC research team led by Pan, established a quantum computer prototype named "Jiuzhang" with up to 76 photons detected, marking the first milestone China reached on the path to full-scale quantum computing – a quantum computational advantage, also known as "quantum supremacy," which indicates an overwhelming quantum computational speedup.

In 2021, the team further developed the "Jiuzhang 2.0" with 113 detected photons and a 66-qubit programmable superconducting quantum computing system named "Zuchongzhi 2.1," making China the only country to achieve a quantum computational advantage in two mainstream technical routes – one via photonics quantum computing technology and the other via superconducting quantum computing technology.

(With input from Xinhua)

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