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ColdQuanta, Super.tech Merger Holds Industry Implications

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BOULDER, Colo., Aug. 25, 2022 — Quantum company ColdQuanta acquired Chicago-based quantum startup Super.tech in a merger that combines ColdQuanta’s hardware capabilities with Super.tech’s software innovations. The merger, announced in May, is addressing pressing needs in quantum research for ColdQuanta — as well as the quantum industry. Both companies are affiliates of Q-NEXT, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Quantum Information Science Research Center led by Argonne National Laboratory.

ColdQuanta develops quantum devices and quantum information platforms based on cold-atom technology, in which lasers cool neutral atoms to a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero. At that temperature, the atoms can be manipulated as carriers of quantum information, or qubits. As a member of Q-NEXT, ColdQuanta supports the development of a cold-atom-based computer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Q-NEXT university partner. There, scientists are using the computer to simulate the behavior of candidate materials for quantum devices.
ColdQuanta’s Adam Friss and Woo Chang Chung work on Hilbert, the world’s first commercial cold-atom quantum computer. Courtesy of ColdQuanta.
ColdQuanta’s Adam Friss and Woo Chang Chung work on Hilbert, the world’s first commercial cold-atom quantum computer. Courtesy of ColdQuanta.
ColdQuanta also plans to provide the Q-NEXT collaboration with access to its quantum computer at its headquarters in Boulder, Colo.

“We want to make sure that we’re exposing the functionality of these cold-atom-based devices so that they can be compared in an open playing field, so the community can make informed decisions about the viability and interactions with the different players in the space, including those within the Q-NEXT collaboration,” said Tom Noel, ColdQuanta vice president for quantum computing.

Now that Super.tech is part of ColdQuanta, it can access the cold-atom quantum platform to battle-test its software. One of Super.tech’s offerings is SuperstaQ, which helps optimize software performance on various quantum computing platforms.

Q-NEXT researchers at Argonne are using it to tackle perhaps the biggest problem facing quantum computing: noise.


Noise is the unavoidable uncertainty that accompanies all measurements and calculations, and arises from the environment and the random behavior of nature. While inevitable, noise brings error.

This is a particularly troubling problem for quantum devices. Quantum encodes information in quantum states of matter. These states are fragile and even a whisper of noise can destroy them, making quantum devices particularly prone to error. Quantum researchers are testing a variety of techniques to mitigate the problem.

Q-NEXT researchers at Argonne are using SuperstaQ to design algorithms that target the underlying quantum hardware more efficiently, thereby reducing error.

“For example, instead of running a program and getting the right answer 10% of the time, they run SuperstaQ and get the right answer 50% of the time on typical problems,” said Pranav Gokhale, vice president of software at ColdQuanta and Super.tech co-founder. “Their aim is to understand the types of errors that quantum computers are particularly hampered by and figure out how to work around them.”

Q-NEXT collaborators also use Super.tech’s SupermarQ, a free, open-source collection of stress tests for quantum computers. Scientists can use the tests to assess different aspects of a quantum computer’s performance and figure out which applications are best suited to that device.

“It’s been valuable to get feedback from researchers who use our software. It’s been helpful for designing better services, and the researchers have actually invented really cool, innovative ideas on top of our software,” Gokhale said. “It’s inspired us to push beyond what we were already thinking in our vision of quantum software.”

Forging connectivity between tech companies and research institutions is important both for advancing the science and for the quantum-technology market, said Q-NEXT Director David Awschalom.

“A highly connected quantum ecosystem is key to bringing quantum technologies into everyday use, and strengthening the ecosystem is an important part of Q-NEXT,” Awschalom said. “ColdQuanta and Super.tech are a wonderful example of how stronger connections between researchers can accelerate R&D.”


Published: August 2022
Glossary
laser cooling
Laser cooling is a technique used to reduce the temperature of a material or a collection of atoms or molecules by using laser light. It is based on the principle of selective absorption and emission of photons by atoms or molecules. In laser cooling, specially tuned laser beams are directed at the material or atoms. When these atoms absorb photons from the laser light, they gain momentum in the direction of the laser beam due to the momentum carried by the photons. However, according to...
cold atom
Cold atoms refer to atoms that have been cooled to extremely low temperatures, typically in the microkelvin (µK) to nanokelvin (nK) range, close to absolute zero (0 Kelvin or -273.15°C). At such low temperatures, the thermal motion of the atoms becomes very slow, allowing researchers to manipulate and control their quantum mechanical properties with high precision. Cold atom research is primarily conducted in ultrahigh vacuum chambers, where atoms are cooled using various techniques...
quantum
The term quantum refers to the fundamental unit or discrete amount of a physical quantity involved in interactions at the atomic and subatomic scales. It originates from quantum theory, a branch of physics that emerged in the early 20th century to explain phenomena observed on very small scales, where classical physics fails to provide accurate explanations. In the context of quantum theory, several key concepts are associated with the term quantum: Quantum mechanics: This is the branch of...
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