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Australia and France strike quantum deal

Australia's Silicon Quantum Computing company and the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives will work together to develop the first silicon quantum computer.

Australia and France have announced a partnership that will see both countries work together on quantum computing.

Signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and President of France Emmanuel Macron said the partnership is the "tangible next step" in the development of a silicon quantum computer.

Under the MoU, Australia's first quantum computing company, Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC), and France's research and development (R&D) organisation, the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA), will form a joint venture in silicon CMOS quantum computing technology that will see a focus on technology development, as well as commercialisation opportunities, as they strive to develop a quantum computer.

The organisations are striving towards the manufacture and industrialisation of quantum computing hardware.

SQC was launched in August to take advantage of and commercialise the work done by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in the quantum space.

Leveraging intellectual property developed at the UNSW-based Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T), out of UNSW, SQC is pursuing parallel approaches using single atom quantum bits (qubits) and qubits fabricated using silicon-CMOS technology. The MoU concerns this silicon-CMOS approach.

"Quantum computing promises to revolutionise the IT industry," CQC2T director and SQC director and founder professor Michelle Simmons said.

"We have phenomenal leadership in silicon quantum computing across a range of platforms, and SQC is now moving rapidly to commercialise all these technologies."

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SQC has set itself the target of producing a 10-qubit integrated circuit prototype in silicon by 2022, as the forerunner to a silicon-based quantum computer.

Similarly, the CEA has unique knowledge in quantum properties of silicon nanodevices, and the teams based in Grenoble recently announced breakthroughs towards large-scale fabrication of qubits, the elementary bricks of future quantum processors.

In a statement from Turnbull on Wednesday, it was said that the CEA has demonstrated on a 300mm industrial-scale R&D facility that silicon CMOS technology can be leveraged to create qubits, and they fabricated isotopically 28Si substrates to further benefit from intrinsic coherence properties of silicon.

There's a race internationally to build the first quantum computer, and Simmons believes Australia can get there first.

Simmons and her teams have been reaching for the finish line since 2000, developing their first qubit in 2012.

A team of researchers she led unlocked the key to enabling quantum computer coding in silicon in late 2015, announcing that UNSW had the capability to write and manipulate a quantum version of computer code using two qubits in a silicon microchip.

The breakthrough followed an announcement made a month prior, when another team of engineers from the university built a quantum logic gate in silicon, which made calculations between two qubits of information possible.

Most recently in March, CQC2T scientists announced making two atom qubits "talk" to each other in silicon, providing the ability to see their exact position in the solid state.

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