May 23, 2022

Quantum computing is the holy grail in the world of technology: in theory, it promises unprecedented computing power that can be used to solve the most complex problems; In practice, most attempts to create a physical expression of a concept result in too many errors as a by-product of the mass production of quantum computers. Now, the French startup believes it has made a breakthrough in solving these problems and hopes to help translate these advances into machines it plans to launch next year.

Alice & Bob, a Paris-based startup that claims to build fault-tolerant quantum processors, has raised 27 million euros (just under $30 million at today’s price) using the money to develop chips and computers, as well as a business model based on increasingly quantum technologies. . computing as a service, all to launch in 2023. Series A will be led by Elia, BPEFRANCE (via digital venture fund) and Supernova Invest, as well as Breega. (Elaia and Briga also backed Alice & Bob in a €3 million seed round in 2020, the year the startup was founded.)

The startup’s name is a reference to two fictional characters often used for fictional thought experiments in fields such as cryptography and quantum physics. Similarly, Alice and Bob’s innovative building blocks also include a theoretical context. CEO Theo Peronin tells me that rather than looking for ways to reduce errors by adding more qubits to the problem (qubits are the most essential building block of quantum computing systems), Alice and Bob came up with a different architecture that makes it harder to understand. .. it’s a “cat qubit”. “, a reference to Schrödinger’s cat and the idea that something is in “two states” at the same time, as a way to reduce errors in processing, to reduce the number of processors needed to correct those errors.

While most approaches to creating quantum computer processors are based on superconducting circuits — Peronin notes that IBM and Google are working on it — his startup has come up with a “different type of chip architecture” that automatically corrects errors.

established Peronin and As an offshoot of Raphael Lescan’s French academic world (of the 40 people who now work there, more than half are PhDs), Alice and Bob continue to work with French research labs to prove their approach.

Recent work with a group led by quantum physics professor Zaki Legtas showed that their cat with a “bit flip” (the name for one of two types of errors commonly found in quantum systems) can collide within minutes. This may not seem like much uptime, but it’s an improvement of about 100,000 times over previous quantization efforts.

Peronin tells me that the startup’s next step – and it’s still a year away from a product announcement – is to work on using the cat’s orbit to detect phase reversals (another type of error) to reduce Is.

The work he has done so far is pretty comprehensive. Peronin believes the startup has outpaced many of the quantum efforts of other big tech companies. Alice & Bob has applied for a patent on its hardware and software components, and while it has no plans to license other companies before building its own computers, they have said that is also an option.

“Now we are focused on the production of a complete machine, because we must first show that the technology can deliver on its promises,” he said. “But since we see some competitors and some of our technologies are patented, the question arises: [of licensing] stay open.” As an example, he cited Amazon’s Quantum Roadmap, which lists the pieces developed by Alice and Bob 151 times over 118 pages. “I think we can tell they’re after us.”

So far, the global quantum race has been just that: although we have seen many announcements from major technology companies about what they are doing, as well as many start-ups from academia who want to commercialize their specific achievements and approaches. (Alice and Bob are among the latter), no one has yet reached the finish line with machines that can truly deliver the exponential scale of computing that quantum computing promises.

Still, it all seems painfully close given how the rest of the tech world has advanced — with advances in AI, the drive to apply technology to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, and simply to make existing work more efficient. “There is still a huge appetite to continue funding these startups to see who and what eventually brings them together.

“As investors in deep technologies, we believe that some of society’s biggest problems can be solved with breakthrough technologies created in research labs,” said Sophia Dahun, chief investment officer at Elia. “Therefore, we see quantum computing as one of the most promising world-changing technologies that could lead to extraordinary progress in a wide variety of applications.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.