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China Bids Highest for Quantum Computing by Beating Its Own Record for Supremecy – Here’s How It’s Getting It

‘Europe and the United States have led quantum computing, and also everything related to quantum physics. However, in Europe we have lagged behind in the industrial part involved in building quantum computers. The main reason is that there is not so much entrepreneurship. There are not as many technology industries as in the United States.

This statement by the Spanish scientist Ignacio Cirac, considered unanimously one of the founding fathers quantum computing, clearly reflects that Europe is failing to stay at the forefront of this discipline from an industrial point of view. However, during our conversation with him at the end of June, he explained to us that when it comes to the practical implementation of this technology, the United States does not necessarily have the last word:

“In the case of China, the government realized very early that this was strategic for it and made huge investments in quantum computing. And this has allowed it to make some important advancements that are difficult to achieve in any other way, for example, in quantum cryptography. There are several scenarios in which China has made progress based on resources and brute force“Cirac stated firmly during our conversation.

It is a fact: China is proving to have a monumental technical, scientific, and, of course, economic capacity. The milestones that this nation is reaching in two scenarios as complex as space exploration and quantum computing leave no doubt about its intention to strive for leadership in both disciplines. In fact, as regards the latter, its most prominent researchers published an article just a few days ago in which they describe a new milestone that definitely places this Asian country at the forefront of quantum computing.

China has achieved quantum supremacy twice, and also with authority

In October 2019, the Google team of researchers led by John Martinis published an article in Nature in which he explained in great detail the procedure he had devised for achieve quantum supremacy. This milestone identifies the moment in which a quantum computer is capable of solving in an approachable period of time a problem that a classical computer could only solve in an unaffordable period of time, which usually amounts to thousands of years.

Google’s research team led by John Martinis achieved quantum supremacy using the 54-qubit Sycamore processor

In fact, Martinis and his collaborators argued in their paper that the quantum algorithm they had designed to be run by the Sycamore 54-qubit quantum processor had solved in 200 seconds a pseudo-random number generation problem that a classical supercomputer would have invested in. not less than 10,000 years. A short time later, IBM claimed that it had an algorithm that allowed its classic supercomputers to tackle the same problem in no more than two and a half days, but the germ of quantum supremacy had already been sown.

And it is that the achievement of Google did not take long to stay small. In December 2020, a group of researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China and the Tsinghua University of Beijing led by Jian-Wei Pan published an article in Science in which they explained how they had managed to solve in just over three minutes using a quantum system, a problem in which the most powerful classical supercomputers on the planet would have invested 600 million years.

Jian-Wei Pan’s group has achieved quantum supremacy for the second time and under more ambitious conditions than in their previous experiment.

However, the strategy used by Asian researchers it was radically different to the one used by the Google team. Jian-Wei Pan’s group developed a quantum system designed to use an optical circuit capable of harnessing the quantum property that allows photons to travel randomly in different directions to carry out extraordinarily complex calculations. In fact, the problem with which he managed to achieve quantum supremacy was significantly more complex than the one used by John Martinis’ team.

But here is not everything. And it is that the Jian-Wei Pan group has reached quantum supremacy for the second time and in more ambitious conditions than in your previous experiment. These researchers released their new milestone several months ago, but the article describing their procedure reached arXiv’s servers only a few days ago. And yes, as promised, it reflects that this new experiment represents an important step forward in quantum computing.


The Zuchongzhi 2.1 quantum processor is more accurate and less sensitive to noise than the original Zuchongzhi chip and the Sycamore processor used by Google to achieve quantum supremacy.

The first time the team led by Jian-Wei Pan achieved quantum supremacy, it used the superconducting processor Zuchongzhi, which has 66 qubits. However, in that experiment he “only” used 56 qubits. For the calculations made by the quantum processor to be correct, it is essential control qubits very precisely, thus guaranteeing that they remain isolated and in a minimum energy environment that prevents them from spontaneously changing their quantum state as a consequence of the disturbances introduced by thermal energy.

China is taking quantum computing very seriously. New milestones will arrive, and they will probably do so hand in hand with this Asian country

In their second experiment, these researchers have used the same quantum processor again, but this time they have managed to solve an even more complex problem. And, what is even more important, they have used 60 qubits of the 66 totals that the Zuchongzhi quantum processor incorporates. It may seem like using four more qubits than when you first achieved quantum supremacy isn’t a big deal, but it’s actually a very important milestone because, as we’ve seen in the previous paragraph, precisely controlling more qubits, even if only a few more, it is extraordinarily complex.

In addition, these Asian researchers assure in their article that Zuchongzhi 2.1, which is what they call the latest revision of their quantum chip, is more accurate and less sensitive to noise not only than the original Zuchongzhi processor, but also the Sycamore chip used by Google to achieve quantum supremacy. It is clear that, as Ignacio Cirac explained to us, China is taking quantum computing very seriously. And this is only the beginning. We can be sure that we will soon witness new milestones, and they will probably come from the hand of this gigantic Asian country.

Cover Image | IBM Research

More information | China University of Science and Technology